My First Week on Ritalin

For those of you who don’t know, I was recently diagnosed with ADD/ADHD,

It had never crossed my mind that I might live with the disorder. I had always blamed my Anxiety disorder for the myriad of symptoms that plagued my ability to finish work efficiently and without an anxiety attack or two.
My distractability, poor concentration, fidgeting, hyper-concentration and others could all be explained by either my Depression, my PTSD or my Generalized Anxiety. And so it wasn’t until Blue (my son) was a few months old that anyone had ever mentioned the possibility.

This is fairly unsurprising considering many women are left un-diagnosed, and therefor untreated.

When I look back, there were some pretty clear signs of ADD/ADHD throughout my childhood, albeit that hindsight bias is undoubtedly at work there. And so, after a process of about 6 months, I received funding to have testing done, and I was diagnosed with ADD & ADHD.

Today marks one full week on medication, and I want to share my experience and thoughts with you.

The first thing I noticed after starting my prescription for Ritalin was that the world became quiet. It somehow felt more calm, which I didn’t expect, given that Ritalin is a stimulant.

You know the electronics section of any department store, where there are about 30 televisions lined up side by side, and different programs playing on each one? Imagine the volume on each television was on, and each telling you about a different task or deadline that you need to complete… That’s kind of what my daily life felt like before.
I would be paralyzed with anxiety, didn’t have any grasp on where or how I could start any task, and couldn’t concentrate long enough to get any started. Then, add in a fully-dependent and stubborn little toddler into the mix. It’s no wonder I constantly felt as though I was operating with a critically low battery.

About 25 minutes after I take my prescription, it’s as though someone has come around and turned off all of the televisions.
An odd analogy, I’m sure, but it’s the only way I can truly describe the feeling.

I got more done from my task list on that first day than I would otherwise have (maybe) finished in 3 or 4 days. I didn’t have to put in the same mountain of effort into the tasks, either. I spent longer periods working and with fewer distracting thoughts and feelings. I still needed to occupy my mind by putting on a podcast to listen to while I worked, but I expected that.

Where the “smallest” of tasks seemed to occupy most of my energy and motivation, I could now do them with ease. I often found myself wondering if this is what “normal” people feel like most of the time.

I also came to the realization that what medication won’t do is increase your motivation to actually complete tasks. You still need to put in the work and find the motivation to start a task. But once you do, it’s far easier to focus on that task.

Because I’d fallen behind on a good amount of work and chores, I found myself using my Task Organizer each day to determine where I should focus my (newfound) energy and concentration. In turn, I actually felt EMPOWERED and CAPABLE; two things I hadn’t felt in quite some time.

Of course, it’s still too early to give a full review, but if this first week is any indication of the next three, I’m confident that I’ve Got This!

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Alycia Dort