It gets a little tiring when you hear the phrase “it’s a good thing you’re pretty” each week for fifty-two weeks a year. I get it though. I work in a gay bar and gays love to be sassy (even if it isn’t entirely original). Plus I do come off as ditzy. It’s not that I’m actually stupid. I just have a bad brain. It rarely wants to cooperate with me.
For instance, my bad brain doesn’t want to let me be a productive writer. My writing process tends to flow like this: I sit at the computer for about 3-6 sentences. I then get up to do something completely irrelevant - like lets say… organize my muffin tins. Instead I end up circling around the house about five times having forgotten what I wanted to do. Then I sit back at the computer to start the process all over again (meanwhile my muffin tins remain a complete mess).
My bad brain especially doesn’t want to let me be a good driver. I find myself impatiently jutting through traffic when I suddenly see a sign and think oh look! Arby’s fish sandwiches are back! Meanwhile I don’t even eat at Arby’s and the only reason I ever liked a fish sandwich was because it was a great vehicle to ketchup. I proceed to start thinking about how awesome ketchup is and then abruptly slam on the breaks having barely noticed the stopping cars ahead.
My bad brain doesn’t even want to let me have a decent night’s sleep. I can be absolutely exhausted but the moment I hit the sheets, it decides to roll out a keg to host a giant house party for all the thoughts in my head. They get totally rambunctious, running around and vomiting all over the place - leaving me awake and riddled with anxiety for hours on end.
In elementary school I got diagnosed with ADD, but my mom decided not to put me on ketchup. DAMMIT! I meant Ritalin. Instead she enrolled me into special tutoring so I could get some individualized attention. This way the educators could nab my brain whenever it tried to run off and go play.
As an adult though, I have nobody to nab my brain and it’s starting to interfere with my ability to write, bartend, or even hold a casual conversation (if we’ve ever chatted, you’ve most likely seen me go blank mid-sentence). So I recently decided the time had come to do what my mom thankfully didn’t: reach for the pills.
I’ve been a little weary of psychiatrists ever since I saw one for depression a few years back. He put me on so many unnecessary meds that the reverse happened and I ended up having a psychotic reaction. The more I tried to protest the pills, the more he increased them. Still though as much as I love my general practitioner, I needed a specialist to help solve the riddle that was my bad brain.
The new head-doc I found seemed different right off the bat. He wasn’t so forceful. He asked a lot of good questions. He spent a whole hour with me. And he was even fairly handsome (which actually makes it difficult to really tell them how fucking crazy you are).
However just as I went to tell him about some medications that piqued my interest, our session had ended and I was out the door with a prescription in my hand. It was for Adderall - the one medication I felt entirely weary about. While a friend had raved about how much it helped her, she also admitted to using it sparingly due to it’s addictive nature. And I’d heard all about it’s black market popularity and how soccer-moms abuse it in order to become ultimate she-hulks.
Still though, what else could I do? I needed help and I needed it fast. Plus I wouldn’t know if it worked unless I tried it. Thus I decided to go ahead and fill the prescription. I decided to just let it be an adventure.
The adventure started off a little rough. Once I got the generic prescription back, the word AMPHETAMINE was written right across the bottle. I was shocked. I had no idea (yes, yes, I’m pretty. I get it.). My thoughts went straight to methamphetamine… as in crystal meth… as in HOLY SHIT IT’S FREAKIN METH. I had successfully avoided meth my whole life and here I was about to take a doctor approved version of it? When I got home, I immediately googled the difference between the two.
On one thread, a guy said, “The difference between these two molecules is one methyl group.” Whatever that meant. But there were enough comments on how the slight differences make a big impact that it calmed my then nervous brain. I figured I should still to proceed.
The next morning I took a half a pill as the doctor suggested. A few hours later, I was in full beast mode. Not only could my bad brain focus, but it hyper-focused. I sped through the house multitasking like a boss. I instagramed! I tweeted! I replied to emails! I did laundry! I approved new Facebook requests! I cleaned the god-forsaken office! I even did the dishes! *gasp*
It wasn’t just the energy though. I felt a sense of invincibility. I sent texts and made phone calls that I put off for weeks prior out of sheer dread. Now I didn’t care. Screw whatever response I might get back. I was the she-hulk now! And if I actually did own any muffin tins, they would’ve rued the day they ever got all disorganized on me!
By that afternoon, the Adderall wore off and I felt back to my slushy self again. For the remainder of the week, I continued to take half a pill each morning. I never quite got that same high as the first day. In fact I felt rather normal… with the exception that my brain didn’t run off on me quite as much. I liked this. But my attention span still needed some more assistance.
Per the doctor’s orders, I went up to one full sized pill a week later. Like clockwork, the lazer-focused-speed-beast returned. However this time he returned with something a little different and a little uncomfortable. It didn’t feel like it was helping my naughty brain so much as it was punishing it - “cracking the whip on it” if you will. And my heart and breath were on a marathon to try and keep up.
Like the previous week, the speed demon faded away but the focus remained this time. Except so did the tension. I regularly felt anxious or on edge. Plus, after having a full emotional meltdown in traffic (which should've just been mere road rage), I realized my irritability increased too. I won’t go into the tear-induced, snotty-nosed details. But it was safe to say… I didn’t like this.
By the third week, I started to use the Adderall less and less. Some days it worked while other days it tore my brain in two different directions. Waking up and rolling over to take my morning amphetamine just didn’t seem worth the gamble for the brain taming I so desperately needed.
Fortunately my next appointment with the psychiatrist was right around the corner. I told him that Adderall wasn’t for me. He told me to dispose of it (which I did so I don’t want any of you black-market-seeking-soccer-moms out there hitting me up) and started suggesting the next medication(s) to try. I interrupted him, something I rarely do, and told him the next medications that I wanted to try. He not only shut his mouth and listened, but he also agreed with my suggestion.
At this point, I can easily say that a follow-up essay, “Wandering With Wellbutrin,” probably doesn’t need to be written. It’s far more mild and still too soon to tell what it might do for me. I may not ever get people to stop joking about how pretty dumb I am. But I’ll certainly continue these adventures as long as it takes to get my bad brain to behave… even just for a little bit.
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