Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is not to convince you to take medication for your ADHD if you don’t already. As you should be well-aware, I'm NOT a medical professional. Contains affiliate links.
This post is intended to tell you my story; that is, why Concerta works for me.
Medication works differently for everyone so, you know the drill: go speak to your doctor/psychiatrist/priest/guru/grandma if you have questions about medication.
My Pre-Medication Life
Before I received my official ADHD diagnosis in March this year (after a 3 year-long investigation with 3 GPs, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist), I had been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety.
Everyday I would wake up before 5.30am (despite setting my alarm for the much more reasonable time of 7.30am) as I would get so nervous about the day ahead.
Although my anxiety had been bad at school and university, it got even more difficult to manage when I began working full-time. For three years, I worked for a large company and my anxiety became unmanageable. I fidgeted, felt jittery, and had butterflies in my stomach, all-day-every-day. I worried what people thought of me, made mistakes in my work, and got to the stage that I couldn’t sleep at night due to my extreme fear of simple work-related tasks like answering the phone or attending meetings.
Fortunately for everyone involved, someone at the company pointed me in the direction of the company’s own healthcare department and suggested that I make an appointment with one of the in-house doctors.
Moving Away and Other Great Ideas
Each time my doctor asked me about my anxiety, I would steer the topic away from work and my current anxiety problems:
(i.) ‘It’s okay, I plan on leaving this job soon and find something more connected to my background’.
(ii.) ‘It's okay, I’m hoping to move to California’.
(iii.) ‘It's okay, I’m moving back to Northern Ireland’.
(iv.) ‘It's okay, I’ve applied to teach English in Japan’.
(v.) ‘It's okay, I’m hoping to teach English in Lisbon.’
(vi.) ‘It's okay, I've got another job as a linguist and I'll leave soon to live in Dallas for a while and finish my master's dissertation' - this actually is what I ended up doing.
It was at this point that my doctor asked the question:
Does anyone in your family have ADHD?
Uh. Yes, actually.
Yes, we ADHD’ers like new ideas. It’s what makes us happy. I tend to find it hard to relax until I’ve found something to focus on — like moving to a new continent. The problem is that I spend so much time focussing on this new idea that I eventually become anxious again - a vicious circle.
Turns out, I’ve always been passionate about the chase not the end result.
I strive to find a brand new idea to focus on so I can obsess over something for a month or two. Once I settle on this idea (for me, it’s usually a new city I can live in), I can work out EVERY.SINGLE.DETAIL.
The apartment I’ll live in. Dates of flights. Finding a new job. The best neighbourhoods. The best restaurants near that neighbourhood. Cars to buy there. Bus routes to that potential future job. I mean, like, everything. (Interestingly, this makes me good at gameshows like Pointless because I’ve researched so many cities in so much depth… useful things like that).
The new plan becomes the thing I hyperfocus on and, while I’ve found this new obsession, it’s all I can think about — like I've said before, don’t ever try to watch a movie while you’re hyperfocusing on something like this!
Projects and Creativity
I’ve always been creative — I play the piano, love to take pictures, enjoy sewing, and interior design.
The thing was, I didn’t get anywhere with any of these interests. I own several tin whistles (from my tin whistle classes, obviously), a ukulele, a crocheting kit, several (almost) unused sketch pads, paints, a trumpet. You get the idea.
Each time I started a new project or became totally involved in learning a new hobby, I would run out of steam, only a few months, or even weeks, later.
The excitement wore off and I never finished anything I began.
My Post-Medication Life
Before taking Concerta, I was worried that I would become “boring”.
I feared that I would lose my creativity, don a grey suit, and get a job as an accountant. Okay, so I’m ridiculously terrible at maths, so that probably wasn’t going to happen.
After a few days, I decided to give Concerta XL a try.
Living in the UK, where ADHD is relatively uncommon, especially among adults, I had no idea what that effects of an ADHD medication would be.
My doctor originally told me that ‘there was no point in getting a diagnosis for Adult ADHD because I wouldn’t be able to get medicated anyway’ — turns out he had pretty much never treated anyone with ADHD, so he’s actually learning about it at the same rate as me.
The Transition from a Consumer to a Producer
On Day 1 of taking Concerta XL 18mg (I'm now on 54mg), I completed an entire project for work. The whole thing. I also did two loads of laundry and cleaned my bedroom. I couldn’t sit still and felt under pressure to keep working, no matter what.
Fortunately, by Day 2, things had settled down...
Over time, I found that my creativity actually increased.
I used the time I’d spent before scrolling mindlessly through Twitter, Facebook, and BuzzFeed in the past to actually be a productive member of society. The only way I can describe it is that, before Concerta, I was a consumer, and now I’m a producer.
Within just a few short weeks of beginning medication I noticed huge, life-changing differences: I started this site, I paint, take photographs, edit photographs, I draw, I write, I’ve begun creating an app.
Most importantly, I now complete projects(!) Something I’ve never achieved before. This is an amazingly awesome feeling. All my worries about losing my creativity became totally redundant. I now wonder if I was even creative before - can you be creative if you don't actually finish making anything?
It’s been four months since starting on Concerta and I’ve yet to have become obsessed with a new idea - no new moves, no obsessing over jobs, nothing.
The excitement and feeling of extreme concentration that I used to get while planning a future move, is now found by creating new things, writing blog posts, and designing.
For me, this is why I love taking medication for ADHD. Okay, so I still get anxiety at times, but this is getting better, and although I’ve had some side effects, (restless legs, mostly) these are slowly improving.
It’s not perfect, but I’m so glad that I finally feel like I’m adding a little something to the world, even if it’s just a blog post or two.