Six months ago, a professor gave me a warning. I’d just presented my proposal for my final project, a ten minute radio piece that would expose my recent ADHD diagnosis and subsequent prescribed attention deficit drug use.
“Be careful with that shit, Tati. I apologize if I’m crossing a line here, but…just be careful. I thought I gave some of my best lectures on it. I was wrong. It buried me in my thoughts. I didn’t eat. Take care of yourself, okay?”
This drug I’m talking about…it’s like candy for college students. We pop it for work, and blow it for pleasure. And for many of us, its use is sanctioned by a licensed professional who meets with us once a month to do a quick check in and write us another script. And if you ask most of us, we’ll tell you honestly: it’s a fucking joke.
I’ve always “suffered” from inattention. I’m hyperactive and easily distracted, yes, and those personality traits have often gotten in the way of my (school)work. Am I more chronically sidetrack-able than most of my peers, though? Maybe. Probably. Has my “ADHD” caused me plenty of anxiety and all-nighters that never should’ve been? Certainly.
Thankfully, there’s a sexy drug for that: Adderall, also known as Dextroamphetamine or, as it appears on my pill bottles, AMPHETAMINE SALTS. And if those spicy, clinical names ring as “crack” in your ear, you’ve got good hearing.
Once a month, I go to Rite Aid and collect 1200mg—that’s two 20mg pills a day—of what, for all I know, is more akin to crystal meth than it is to anything that might be mildly beneficial for either my mental or physical health. And I give the pharmacist only $10—the going rate for about two pills if you buy from your local campus dealer—because my insurance pays the balance. Because I have a problem. Because I see a psychiatrist. Because I’ve got a diagnosis that needs fixing, see?
When I’m on it, for a while, I feel great. I feel productive and thin. My thoughts are worth thinking. I’m sharp. I’m not hungry. I succeed in what I often feel I’m failing at. The sky looks bluer and water tastes cleaner and I stand a little straighter.
And then comes the crash. It’s subtle. I don’t anticipate it, even though I know it’s coming. And then, suddenly, I’m down. The sky is grey and water is murky and I’m hungry, so I eat, but food has no taste. Then I crack a pill in half and let it slide down my throat with some blue Gatorade. And just like that, I’m back.
Don’t get me wrong—those orange tablets help me focus, no doubt. But in the 8 months I’ve been swallowing that poison, I’ve lost a little bit of me. I don’t laugh at jokes that, normally, I would find funny. My friends have noticed it, and for a long time, I didn’t want to admit it—I didn’t want to see that even when I was a foot away from people who give me life, I wasn’t there—I wasn’t living.
Adderall corrects a whole bunch of stuff that, in certain forums, might be seen as problematic or defective. I’m hyper. I abandon conversations mid-sentence and I’ve been known to start a paper an hour before it’s due. Ok. Sure. But all that shit—it’s part of my personality. And after a clean three week break from my little tangerine friends, I’ve decided to abandon them in an effort to resurrect the old me.
Sounds way dramatic, I know. But if you don’t feel me, you haven’t been hooked on your own medicine. You don’t know what it is to take a pill because you have a problem and your doctor says it’ll fix it, and then slowly lose touch with all the quirks that make you so fucking fun.
But tomorrow’s a new year, bitches. So I’m back.