To Medicate or Not to Medicate, that is the Question!

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Choosing whether to take medication for ADHD can be a very individual thing for adults.

Drugs: the double-edged sword that has become embedded in every day lives. Some drugs heal, while others can cause immeasurable damage in the wrong hands. When I was ten I was prescribed Ritalin, which realistically is a moderated form of speed. My mum was very up front with me about the effect it would have. It might stop you growing, but the doctor and I think that you probably won’t grow much taller. At 5’7 I’m a few inches shorter than my parents and there will always be a small irrational part of me that wonders if I was cheated out of a few inches. However, I appreciated my mum’s determination to explain to me at a young age, what this drug was about.

I felt it’s effects instantly; I was more focused and less impulsive, which while great for my education, made me feel almost zombie like and devoid of personality. You see, that impulsiveness is what makes me so bubbly and creative, without it, well I’m not entirely me.  That’s not to say that for other people the pros don’t outweigh the cons, but for me something just didn’t sit right.

“They told me my medication was no longer having any effect.”

ADHD Girl

When I was sixteen, they changed me from Ritalin that I had to take every four hours to a Ritalin that was supposed to last for 12 hours. I absolutely hated it, mainly because a severe side effect of taking it was heart palpations that left me overheating and lying on the cold bathroom floor. When I was seventeen, the doctors decided to withdraw my medication altogether. Even today, I’m not entirely sure what their reasoning was, but all I got told at the time was ‘we don’t think it’s having any effect’

Not long after that, I started my first proper job working in a nursery, and surprisingly, ADHD fits in pretty well with that. Yes, I was bubbly, creative and clumsy, but so were the kids I was looking after, which meant I could appeal more to their reasoning. Young children use to sit for ages, while I would entertain them with my made-up stories pulled from my unlimited imagination.

After building up my battered confidence by working in nurseries, because I had found something I was good at, I eventually plucked up the courage to go to university, where as you might know from my other blog posts, I thrived! Finally, I was learning about something that felt relevant, that I was passionate about, and I was good at. The combination of those three things, together with the fantastic support I received from university enabled me to achieve an honours with distinction in early childhood studies.

“Medication can give people with ADHD a choice, without it they may not have one.”

ADHD Girl

While I was at university, I did my independent research project on a case study of a child with ADHD. I must admit going into the project I had misconceptions, I assumed the child might have low self-esteem like I did and I was very anti-medication at the point, but I was proved very wrong. Upon observing the child over a period of time, both when he was medicated and unmedicated, I found that medication offer him the chance at an education. Without it, he simply couldn’t cope in a classroom environment. Now I have point of view on how classrooms are not equipped to deal with children who have ADHD, but that doesn’t eliminate the fact that medication in the short term offered him choice, without it, he didn’t have one.

Now, I’m not against medication as a form of treatment for ADHD, but I do argue that it shouldn’t be the sole treatment, because there, is, in my own opinion, something unsettling about being completely reliant on a drug for a neurological condition. It feels like it might be masking the problem, instead of tackling it. However, I realise that for many people medication can be a wonderful blessing that enables them to live a normal life.

I was diagnosed and medicated when I was ten, on medication for seven years and now I’m 33 which means I’ve spent more time unmedicated than I have medicated. This has taught me a lot how I operate and manage myself as a person, what coping strategies work and what don’t, I’m not sure I’d have had that, if I’d have stayed medicated all this time, but each to their own.

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