Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How You See It

For years, I talked with Iris about her ADD and how she might find medications such as Adderall helpful.

For years, Iris concluded that since she doesn't share my hyperactivity, she doesn't have ADD.

Recently, after months of not being able to maintain focus, of being endlessly distracted, of completing very little of what she set out to do, Iris decided to do a little googling on ADD and ADHD.

Low and behold, Iris' symptoms, actions and reactions exactly resembled those of someone with ADD and not those of someone with ADHD.

Iris set up an appointment with our doctor who prescribed Adderall and I must say that it's been a godsend.

With Adderall, Iris is more calm and focused, she listens better when people speak, she's more patient and easy-going, she's open to new ideas, she's more productive and, she's happier. It's quite amazing, really.

My experience with Adderall is similar to that of Iris, though perhaps more pronounced.

Given such great results, you might find it curious that we both still experience some reluctance to use medication, some residual judgment that medications are bad or wrong.

The reluctance takes different forms, e.g., holding out until later in the day, or taking half a pill, or skipping a day, etc., but nonetheless it's there.

So the question would be, "Why?" Why be reluctant to take a medication that works such wonders?

For me, the answer lies in judgments. I believe I should be able to maintain focus, etc. without chemical help. I believe that pills are a crutch. I believe that use of medications should be limited. Basically, I believe that pills are bad.

In fact, for years I avoided Adderall. After using it successfully for several years, I decided to stop. I decided to do other things to help control my ADD.

Before I stopped taking the medications, I would record the experience in my mind. I'd take a pill and then close my eyes recording all the sensations in my body: my breathing, the relaxing of my fingers and wrists, the flow of blood through my shoulders and arms. Then I'd try to reproduce the same sensations sans pill. I got good at it.

I also increased my workout regiment going from three or four days a week to every day and increasing the time from 40 minutes to 90 minutes.

All of this worked well, but it was expensive, at least in terms of time. It could also be difficult to maintain when traveling or working longer hours.

So one day I started thinking about again taking Adderall and I realized a few things.

First of all, I'd let some arbitrary sense of right and wrong become more important than doing the things I claimed I wanted to do.

Second, I realized that in the end, it was all about manipulating my body's chemistry. Whether using biofeedback, long hours of workout, or taking a pill, the effect was the same. All these were simply different levers on the same mechanism.

Third, I realized that I'd abandoned my first principle of decision making, i.e., measure cost-benefit, not just cost and not just benefit.

Putting these together, it was a no-brainer to see that, for me, Adderall ranked highest in terms of cost-benefit. It doesn't take a lot of time, it's easy and, it works, really well.

So, I called the doctor, got an appointment and we talked. I do remember how amused she was that I'd done so much work to avoid taking a pill that worked so well for me.

And it does.

And still, I sometimes experience reluctance.


Happy Wednesday,


  1. Funny, as I have been reading the last couple of Blogs I thought "Wow, maybe I should give Adderall a try. It seems to be working wonders for them!" Then I felt that same reluctance/resistance bubble up inside me. I told myself that you two are amazing because you could let go of the judgement and try it anyway. I am questioning my stubborn attachment to that same judgement that even has me resenting my diabetes medicine. What a boost it is for me that you have shared those same kind of thoughts with me. Somehow my stuck feels less sticky when I can see someone I love and admire sticking too.

  2. Mark,
    So good to hear you're less sticky. How far is that from un-stuck?

    When working at Bell Labs, I used to run at lunch. If I had afternoon meetings scheduled, I'd run extra hard and extra long. Sort of a corporate survival technique.

    I had friends who frowned upon this. They insisted that I should just be able to control my responses with my "mind". Others insisted that you only get so many heartbeats and that you shouldn't waste them with something so frivolous as running nowhere in particular.

    Still there were others who would say, "It's stupid to spend an hour running when you could just take a pill."

    Perspective built into belief systems. Amazing stuff.


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