Today, I want to talk about meds.
Almost a week ago, I met with a psychiatrist for the first time in 8 years. Back in the day, I sought out pharmaceuticals to help me with my anxiety, but soon discovered that I didn’t like the way those pills made me feel. Since then, I was really resistant to trying any kind of medication. Early in my therapeutic relationship, my therapist suggested that I try mood stabilizers, but back then I was really adamant about healing holistically. I think at the time, it was the right choice.
But I’ve recently–within the past year and a half–passed a major, major hurdle in my emotional healing, and since then I had hit a sort of rut. My loneliness and lack of self-worth was what had originally driven me to seek out therapy, and meeting my partner Cristopher in September 2019 marked the end of that era for me. Before I started therapy, I was constitutionally incapable of selecting an appropriate, emotionally available partner and relating to them healthfully, but the healing I have done has enabled me to both attract and thrive in my current relationship. That sector of my life is sorted–I found a wonderful man who loves me, and I’m happy.
But with love and its trials off my mind, other struggles came to the forefront. I’ve mentioned before that I have been really unhappy with my job/career on the fringes of academia; I’ve also mentioned that I struggle greatly with executive dysfunction, and that as a result I have trouble “making moves” on things despite having grand ideas that I feel strongly about bringing to fruition.
My executive dysfunction also affects my domestic life and my health. I have historically gotten overwhelmed to the point of paralysis by simple tasks like cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. I’ve always managed to get by, but have found those basic responsibilities to be huge, exhausting burdens that sap energy from me–energy I could be using for higher-order tasks, like working on my various projects. I’ve also been wanting to get in better shape, but have struggled immensely to consistently muster the motivation to go out and exercise.
Well, as of last Saturday, I seem to have turned a corner. That was the first day I took my prescribed 20mg dose of Vyvanse, and I can’t even begin to express how much better I’ve been feeling since then.
Vyvanse is a stimulant in the amphetamine family, and it’s used to treat ADHD, which I guess my Psychiatrist has decided I meet the criteria for (we didn’t talk about autism much, but the few words we exchanged about it tipped me off to the fact that she has an outdated understanding of it). In addition to helping my mind focus on whatever task is at hand, it has also helped me maintain a positive mood and a healthy energy level throughout my days. I was actually shocked by how much I have been able to accomplish each day since I started taking Vyvanse. I think the best part is that once my dose kicks in, I feel like I have the energy and wherewithal to tackle the day and make it a productive one–a feeling I am by no means used to.
Something especially notable is that, out of the six days I have taken my pill so far, I have gone on 4 hikes. This is a great track record–much better than it had been pre-Vyvanse. I’ve been enjoying hiking more, too, because I feel less emotionally overwhelmed by it. I have also noticed the appetite suppressant effects of the drug–I spend so much less time thinking about food, which, as someone who is rather overweight, can only be considered a good thing.
Admittedly, I feel a little funny about relying on a pill to be able to function at optimal levels–especially because I anticipate there being periods of time when I will have to stop taking it. For a long time, I have been wanting to attend an Ayahuasca retreat, and those retreats typically ask participants to cease taking all medication that is not strictly medically necessary. I anticipate that going off the Vyvanse after having gotten used to its benefits will be pretty difficult, and may even cause a spike in my depression. But, I guess I will have to take that as it comes.
On a more positive note, I’m really excited to see how my creativity unfolds now that my more debilitating symptoms have lifted. I have some big ideas for this blog (although it may take a while for me to make them a reality), plus something like three other projects I’ve been intermittently working on.
I don’t know if there’s a takeaway to this post–I just felt like sharing this new development in my journey. If anything, I guess I’ll say this: if you struggle with executive dysfunction and other ADHD symptoms, don’t underestimate how much of a difference 20mg can make! Everyone is different, of course, but if you’ve been thinking about it, I say give it a shot. You might be pleasantly surprised.