A week into ADHD treatment - My experience on Elvanse

Some of this may not make sense without reading my about me blog first. But here goes.

I'm now on day 5 of titration, about to move up to 50mg of Elvanse.

I was discussing some of the effects of the ADHD medication with a friend of mine when he asked me if I had felt that "before the meds [I was] doing things quickly, just for the sake of getting them done, like there was an imaginary deadline of your own making - like you were on a treadmill? But now, [I] have more time to decide the direction of travel, moment-by-moment?"

When reading this, I felt that it may have been an impression of what he was feeling, but it was very different from my experience. So, I sat down to write out exactly what the last week had felt like.

Before taking Elvanse, it never really felt like I was doing things quickly; more that my brain was constantly going 90mph thinking about the things I had to do, things I've said, things I was going to say, the washing up that needed doing, the lounge that needed cleaning, etc. This meant that when I actually sat down to do the things, I was exhausted already, and doing the things was an additional challenge.

Now, a week in, I can control what my brain is doing and thinking about, and I have more energy and capacity to do the actual things. It's still a challenge to do the things, but I can do them without already being exhausted, so it's a lot easier.

On top of all that, because I don't have the 90mph brain, I can sit down at the end of the day and reflect on what I've accomplished rather than thinking about the one million things I still have to do.

All of this adds up and has done huge things to improve my mood because I don't feel constantly weighed down by what I need to do and can instead be lifted up by what I have done. It's incredible to be able to relax at the end of a day and be satisfied with my day. Even if I wasn't as productive as I aimed to be, I can appreciate the things I've actually accomplished.

(For context, before this paragraph, it often felt as if I had an "active" brain and an "automatic" brain. One that I controlled and one that did it's own thing no matter what I tried. The automatic brain often overpowered, and ended up influencing, the active brain.)

I think the final bullet is that a lot of my depression stemmed from feeling like I wasn't in control. I'd be at the whim of the automatic brain, and I couldn't control what it made me think or feel, and that was upsetting. No matter how much logic, reasoning or understanding I applied, the automatic brain would make me feel absolutely awful. Now, although I still have feelings of self-doubt and loathing, I can control and understand those feelings rather than just rotting through them helplessly. It's like the sadistic auto-pilot has been locked up, and although feeling things is still quite scary (and definitely something I'm going to be working through with my ADHD coach), I now feel like I can work through that and start to understand how to feel safely.

I'm now much more analytical about my emotions. I can better (not perfectly) understand why and (sometimes) how I'm feeling things, and I feel more prepared to target the root cause rather than burying them and coping with unhelpful substances.

Undoing a lifetime of emotional repression is going to be something that takes a while, but my motivations to go to therapy and improve have changed. Whereas before, I was looking to therapy to escape the constant overwhelming burden the automatic brain was putting on me, now I want to go to therapy so I can genuinely understand my emotions and learn how to work through a lot of the stuff that has been buried by the automatic brain trying to make my life miserable. I feel like I have the capacity to work through the genuine issues and trauma rather than to just escape the sadistic gremlin in control of my life.

Looking back on my previous experiences in therapy it now makes sense why I was never seeing any benefit I could never target the root cause without targeting the biological chemical imbalance in my brain.

I don't think any amount of therapy could help me without my brain working as it should.

To round off, I want to leave you with an analogy for what this has felt like.

If you ordered a TV and the screen was covered in a perfect layer of black paint, no matter what you tried to do to fix the TV you'd never be able to watch TV without applying paint thinner to remove the paint. Then even if the TV still doesn't work you can start fixing the components inside and eventually get a working TV.

I will be sharing a full, in-depth log of my journey through titration in due course.


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