So, this past Monday I went to see my doc (I go fairly regularly, every 3–6 weeks depending on scheduling and life in general). I’ve been borderline ADHD for several years, and have just tried tolerating/coping without meds. To be honest, I didn’t want to really admit it and I was also scared of getting addicted to the meds. I’d heard crazy stuff about Ritalin and I didn’t want to even think about going on it or anything similar.
Well, my doc screened me for ADHD and I scored high enough that he figured it was worth trying to medicate it in hopes it would help me in day-to-day life. He wrote a prescription for Concerta. It has the same active ingredient as Ritalin — methylphenidate — but it’s designed to be an extended release version, good for 6–12 hours. Ritalin has a much shorter active life, in the neighborhood of 4–6 hours.
The plan is to take the meds first thing in the morning (which for me is just after 4 am on a work day). 1 pill a day for 2 days, 2 for 2 days, 3 for 2 days, etc until I notice a regression again. Then go back to the previous dose where I felt the most stable.
Anyway, Tuesday morning I took my first dose. Unfortunately, Tuesday also happened to be a dramatic shift in the weather, which I’ve noticed tends to throw me for a loop and make me much more irritable and sensitive to EVERYTHING. So tuesday was a completely crazy day. I was incredibly amped up, restless, edgy, and irritable. I had no idea what was setting me off. The weather, the new medication, the lack of sleep, or the fact that Saturn has rings around it…yup, it was one of those days. I was talking faster than normal, had occasional balance issues, rapid and/or slurred speech at times. I talked with my hands way more than normal — enough that another staff member commented on it (and I actually hadn’t really noticed until they said something about it). I was scared the meds had messed me up but was wiling to try again, knowing it could very well be a bad combination of weather change and my body getting used to the new meds
Wednesday was a little better, I felt much more stable and felt more focused all day which was great. Not quite so much of the squirrel brain that I’m susceptible to, even on a good day. I still had a few moments of slight balance and hand/eye coordination issues (kinda like when you’ve had some booze, not enough to be drunk but enough that you’re well on your way).
Thursday and Friday I was up to 2 pills and felt pretty good overall. Again, a few moments of slight balance and hand/eye coordination, but not enough that I’m worried about it (yet — I just have to be aware it could be an issue). Wednesday through Friday I noticed I’d have a slight “down” or “crash” around 12:30pm. Not a massive “fall off a cliff” crash, just a slight let-down, which tells me the meds ARE doing something, and that I need to to play with when I’m taking them. Maybe I need to spread out my dosing to make it last most of the day until around supper( which for me tends tobe 5:30pm–6:00pm). I also noticed my heartrate is slightly elevated. Not quite the pounding it’s-trying-to-escape-my-chest of a anxiety attack, but definitely higher than normal. (more on the heart rate thing later).
Saturday wasn’t as good, for a few reasons. I’d stayed up past my usual bedtime friday night, but then unexpectedly had to work Saturday morning, so I was already short on sleep without an opportunity to sleep in. I also only took 1 pill as an experiment. I wanted to see how one pill would go for a lesser day. So between the 2 Saturday was a bit of a setback compared to Wed-Fri. It was also cool and windy, and I’ve noticed windy days are often a rougher day for me — especially since I am outside for a good portion of my day. I wasn’t feeling as “together” as Wednesday through Friday, so I took a 2nd pill when I got home around 1 pm. However, after slacking off Saturday afternoon, I got my butt in gear and tackled some cleaning I’d been procrastinating on, which to me is a huge step. I’d like to give at least some credit to the new meds…the last month or so those tasks have been “yeah I should get that done soon” and not do anything about it. Last night I gave myself a slightly harder push and managed to stay fairly on track (despite following several active threads on social media)
Today is Sunday, I took 2 pills first thing in the morning. I don’t think I need the 3 pills on a day off when I’m supposed to be resting up for the coming week. I have a few things I need to finish off today, but writing this up was on my “to-do” list for today anyway. I want to have this put down somewhere to jog my memory and somewhat keep track of what the meds have been doing.
Overall: Slightly more restless energy, which I burn off pacing around the store, tidying or cleaning when at work. Not like super amped-up sugar or caffeine high…it’s not as drastic spike and crash, it’s much more of a swell build to start with, and not near the dramatic fall off at the end. I’m not sure what I’ll do at home once I get the medication dose/timing figured out to last the whole day. Probably go for a walk or do exercises or something similar.
As for timing, if I take it around 4:20am, and it lasts until around 12:30pm, that’s about 8 hours. I’d like to be coming down late afternoon or early evening, and have the day’s dose clear of my system by 830pm so I can wind down for bedtime. Perhaps I’ll need to take half my daily dose first thing in the morning (whenever I get up, workday or not) and the other half around 9 or 10 am. Ideally I’d have a nice build through the day and a somewhat gradual fall-off that occurs in the evening so I can sleep.
Other then getting addicted to them, there are only 3 concerns I have with them: 1) It’s common to have a reduced appetite. I’m 6 feet tall and barely 155lbs. I don’t think I can afford to lose any weight, so I’ll probably have to force myself to eat regular meals and regular amountsrather than relying on hunger nor “fullness” to guide my eating habits. 2) It can cause insomnia — this is once that could be a make-or-break issue since I’m succeptible to insomnia already. 3) It’s known to elevate heart-rate. I’ve started cycling to work and I’d like to start running and/or a fitness program as well. However being a smoker, and having a heart that’s already under stress from new exercise and smoking for way too long, I’m wondering if I should invest in a FitBit or something similar to keep tabs on my heartrate and sleep patterns.
However, I’m hoping that Wednesday through Friday are a good indication of the future on these meds. The appetite thing I think I can manage. The insomnia is something that I’ll just have to wait and see, maybe the increased energy and focus will offset the lack of sleep to some degree, or maybe it’s just going to be too much that it’s not worth taking the meds. The heart rate thing….well, I think if I can monitor it somehow and be more aware of keeping my breathing in check (especially when exercising or riding my bike) I think I’ll be fine.
So, anyone want to donate to my “FitBit Fund”? I have looked at them out of curiosity and I think the Charge 2 would be the most suited to my anticipated use/needs, although the Alta HR would probably work almost as well. It would be great for tracking steps walked, distance/speed cycled, and hopefully distance run (if I can get myself to focus on starting my couch to 5k program!!!) along with real-time heart rate (so I can focus on bringing my heart rate down if it starts pushing out of a “resting rate” when I’m not exercising. Sleep tracking would be good too (especially if Concerta has a good chance of triggering insomnia).
I’d have to see what other HRMs (Heart Rate Monitor) are out there, but if I’m gonna have something strapped to my wrist again I’d like it to tell the time, measure heart rate, and perhaps basic noticfications from my phone. The “geek” in me wants a full-on smartwatch, but 1) they’re more expensive than a fitness tracker, and 2) my phone is distracting enough as an electronic toy to fiddle with…a smartwatch like this one would just give me one more thing to fuss with and quite possibly distract me from what I should be focusing on.
I am quite seriously considering a HRM, and FitBit seems to fit the bill so far, but they’re not exactly cheap either. Unfortunately I’m not convinced the cheaper ones are accurate (doesn’t seem so from the few that I’ve checked out) So if you’d be willing to contribute to helping be purchase one, please let me know. I’d be very thankful!!!