Adderall - am I cheating?
February 24, 2014 2:30 PM Subscribe
Not academically - I'm not in school. I'm afraid of cheating at life.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm 34 and have bipolar II disorder. I will be on meds the rest of my life (have been on for more than 15 years, have tried going off multiple times and it was Not Good). I have my little cocktail that makes me functional and "normal". I'm grateful I've found something that works for me.
My doctor added Adderall after I admitted that I was working a few hours late most nights because I couldn't focus. She said as long as it didn't make me manic/hypomanic that it was worth trying. I did, no mania - in fact, it sometimes makes me feel a little sleepy, especially when we tried upping my dose. I went off it soon after when I was pregnant and nursing my son, but went back on about a year ago after he weaned. I've only taken it during the work week and then not even every day. The main reason I started again is that I no longer have the luxury of working until 8 or 9 at night since I need - and want - to get home to my son.
On weekends, or when I'm off work, I've still been low-level functional. Before I had my son, it wasn't unusual for me to sleep for an entire day at a time. If I didn't have a two-year-old, I still would - I often nap when he does. My house has always been a disaster zone. I could frequently go entire weekends without leaving the house because I was just meh. Again, I still would if it wasn't for my son. It's not what depression feels like for me, it's just my typical state of being. (I have been tested for other medical conditions. I am hypothyroid and take Synthroid for that, and my TSH is at a great level. I can tell when it's not.)
Then, out of curiosity, I took an Adderall on a day off when we were stuck inside after an ice storm. And Holy Crap. I hauled my butt off the couch and made muffins with my little boy. I was able to work on cleaning my house. I don't mean "scrubbing the faucets with a toothbrush," I mean "consider tackling some of the piles of stuff that render entire rooms unusable". I could look at my messy kitchen and didn't want to cry - I could figure out where to start. I didn't feel wired. I would say I felt "normal", but I don't know *what* normal feels like. I had energy. Not the hypomanic kind, the "let's tackle the day" kind. I'm not used to that feeling. I took it again today, and while I'm sitting on my butt, my son is napping and I'm not. That's huge for me.
I've not been diagnosed with ADHD - my doctor wasn't sure if my inability to focus was due to a form of ADHD or was related to my BPII disorder, but she said if something helped, then the diagnosis itself was secondary. The doctor I see now is a different one (my previous one moved) and he feels the same way. I'm an extremely self-aware patient, always have been.
I have no problem at all taking my other meds. They keep me alive, literally. They let me live my life, with a good job that I enjoy and a family I adore. I'm happy even when I'm exhausted. But I'm not classic ADHD. I didn't have that "flipped a switch in my brain and the noise turned off" experience I see so many references to. I don't think I feel better than normal, but I do feel better than MY normal. Even if that "better" only means it gets me that last bit of the way from "not depressed" to "hey, I can do something on the weekend other than sleep". It feels like the final piece of the puzzle. But I hear so much talk of abuse, and I'm afraid that the very fact that it works, that I DO feel better than my own normal, means taking it is abuse.
I guess the short version of my question is, "Adderall makes me feel better and function better. Is this a bad thing?"
Any thoughts or experiences would be very welcome. If it's not something you can share here, throwaway email to use is firstname.lastname@example.org.