Last week I told you all about the major diet change I made that has helped exponentially with both my endometriosis and ADHD, and I alluded to the fact that it allowed me to stop taking my ADHD medication. You may have wondered why I started taking it again in the first place, since I had previously written about how I decided not to take it because of fears that it could contribute negatively to my endometriosis. So instead of medication, I wanted to try more “lifestyle” approaches, like exercise, to reduce my symptoms. Today I thought I would share why I ended up back on Adderall and what it's taught me about how I handle fear.
I started considering Adderall again when I was in the depths of my struggle with my restrictive diet and overall lack of energy. It's hard to use exercise to manage your symptoms when you feel awful, and something had to give. But I was still afraid of how it would affect my endometriosis and of the long-term impact of taking stimulants in general. On top of that, I was also afraid that I would either have to keep increasing my dose as my body adjusted and/or that it just wouldn't work anymore at some point, which does happen to some people; I couldn't handle the idea that I could experience so many potential negative effects for something that might not work forever. But then I read something that I can’t find now that pointed out that, even if a medication only worked for you for, say, two years, that still means it worked for you for two years, which is not nothing.
At the same time, I was also afraid that, basically, Adderall would work forever, so much so that it would be devastating to come off of it later for a pregnancy, and why would I want to set myself up for that hardship? Why get used to something that I couldn't use all the time? I might as well figure out my alternatives now so I wouldn't have to do it later.
These fears might sound reasonable and responsible until you realize that I was I was afraid of both failure and success. Finally, my desperation for something that would ease my symptoms outweighed my fears of the costs of taking medication, and I said “Screw it” and started taking it.
I'm glad I finally got to that place and started taking it again, but I wish it hadn’t taken my getting to a desperate place to get there. When I look at my thought processes, I can see how irrational they were. Why was I worrying about a potential problem in the future that may not even happen when I couldn't even make it through the day? I've realized that I have a pretty consistent pattern of putting fears about the future over the needs of the present, even though addressing those needs is often the best way to prevent those fears about the future from becoming a reality. With medication, I was so worried about the various risks of long-term use that I couldn't allow myself to use it to function in the present, even though that's exactly what I needed to be able to make the changes that allowed me to not use it in the long-term and thus avoid said risks.
I'm not saying it's bad to consider the potential long-term effects of your decisions or avoid starting bad habits. It is bad, though, to accept future possibilities are certainties, especially when it keeps you from accepting and dealing with actual realities of the present. In my case, I had decided that my fears about the future if I took medication were definitely going to happen while rejecting the truth that what I was doing in the present definitely wasn't working. The problem with not accepting what is and instead obsessively focusing on what could be, though, is that, as I've been learning in therapy, the only thing I can really control is how I respond to the present moment. Getting too caught up in the future, which isn't real yet(!) and which I can't control, means I end up making choices based on fear and anxiety instead of from the calm, sober, grounded place that comes when I focus on the present.
I think part of the reason I like to make fear-based decisions by projecting into the future is that it, ironically, actually feels more secure, because I “know” what's going to happen. When I commit to living day by day and doing what's needed in the present, though, I don't know what will happen in the future, and that's scary! I'd rather be certain about my future, even if that future is terrible, than have to be uncertain about it, even if the uncertain future could be more promising. I'm really into “better the devil you know than the one you don't.” But how much better to live a uncertain life driven by presence and groundedness than a certain but fear-filled one.
So while I hope I won’t need to take Adderall again, I also hope that, if I ever do find myself needing it again, that I'll be brave enough to face that reality before I desperation forces me to.