It’s 3:30 am. Slightly more than the usual insomnia. [Note: One conflicting aspect of the Personal Expression Age in regards to social media is the tendency and temptation for us to head for the immediate gratification of posting to a public site such as Facebook or Tumblr rather than our own blog or website, which is obviously a more permanent, and financially lucrative, place to sit one’s deepest innermost thoughts and feelings. It’s a phenomenon that I’ve just recently been observing, having noticed that over the last four years — since the advent of social media gone mainstream — there is direct correlation between how little I post to these Diaries on a regular basis now, compared to the seven years prior, and how much more time I dedicate to being actively engaged on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr. This is something we should explore in more detail later….]
So rather than “writing” — that sacred act once studied and revered of sitting down to participate in the art and craft of honing one’s ideas with the written word into something potentially coherent, permanent and hopefully even beautiful and admired for all the world to see for an eternity, something that I’d made a daily habit out of for more than twenty-five years, I opted instead for the more ephemeral and much simpler and easier (though perhaps more immediately gratifying) act of a lazy status update on Facebook. This is a trend, perhaps even a habit now, that I fully intend to break in this new year. The point was a simple yet major one. A very recent and profound victory over and breakthrough in my battle with ADD.
[I do believe in sharing, that it’s important to “share”, which is one of the primary benefits of the Age of Personal Expression, this new loving embrace for public sharing…. but for artists a balance must still be found between the two: this temptation to share instantly through social media, and the more tasteful and permanent art of writing. One cannot suddenly abandon one’s occupation of the art and craft of fine writing and letters and replace it with social media posts that are not only inherently temporary but also obligated by necessity to be limited in scope and depth just because it happens to be easier and more instantly gratifying. Unless of course they want to and choose to. That’s their choice. I know many a fine writer who has drifted off into these uncharted shallow rocks never to be heard from again except in little blurps and bleeps on Facebook or Twitter, their wit and wisdom once preserved for the ages now reduced to mere one or two sentence anecdotes, sarcastic comments or the occasional angry rant. As a fan of fine writing I’ve found the trend to be saddening. …
Nonetheless, last night at least, I caved once more. There is something very appealing about that instant read that one feels they receive when posting to a social network that now feels lost even when posting to a popular blog, which theoretically and realistically is just as public as any social network. The irony is that feeling is the same feeling we used to get when we first started posting here over ten years ago. There were no social networks. So the idea of posting one’s innermost secrets online in general — knowing that within minutes or hours others would be reading them, was completely enticing, exciting and exhilarating. Just as posting to a social network like Facebook is today. And with instant links and feeds from one’s blog to every social network out there available, there really is no reason why we should feel so torn and tempted. Perhaps it’s the instantaneous part of it that is so tempting. Or perhaps it’s the more engaging aspect of it…. Depending on what one posts, one can literally almost guarantee themselves some kind of response if that’s what they’re after. Frankly my honest appraisal of this strange phenomenon is that it just comes down to pure laziness. Status updates on social networks are like blowing bubbles. Here now, gone tomorrow. Or like thoughts never revealed in our roaming mind… Here. Gone. What? So there exists no need to perfect them or hone them in. The growing trend in communication amongst ourselves as a society is to focus far less on how we say things and rather just on getting them out, regardless of merit, form or function. This may not necessarily be a good thing. Let’s end this train of thought now and venture out toward the open sea where we originally were headed.]
Where were we? Insomnia. Yes. In case that wasn’t already obvious. But perhaps this time of day or night is best for this type of post. For any other ADD/ADHD folk out there, I am happy and relieved to report that after decades of struggling, maddening frustration and trying everything out there and then some (including brain mapping and even low frequency electromagnetic brain zapping therapy) I believe we’ve finally found something that actually works. Lo and behold it turned out to be the oldest, most obvious and commonly used treatment. Just took a while to get the nerve to try it. Anyone else out there still challenged by it, just know that it is real, it’s not in your imagination, you’re not crazy, it is indeed physical /chemical /biological and not just “all in your mind” as many people try to get you to believe; AND better still there may be a chance there’s a solution out there for you out of the many that are becoming available. Keep trying. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. -Fishy
And thus was the post. Which yielded a string of inquiries as to just what treatment was I referring to specifically. It wasn’t something I had planned on revealing publicly truth be told. But if the sharing aspect of the Personal Expression Age cannot be fully expressed and utilised as we originally predicted it would be to yield full-on democratic revolutions of entire nation-states then it really doesn’t hold much value at all. So privacy be damned we must at least attempt to embrace this growing trend honestly openly enthusiastically and wholeheartedly. So I replied.
OK peeps, I wasn’t going to actually mention what was working for me personally, because I think it’s such a physically personal thing, dependent on each individual’s own biology, that I don’t necessarily think what works for one person is guaranteed to work for another. Plus, there is so much controversy regarding meds for this condition, especially certain ones. But for me, it was Ritalin. But only 5mg doses. What they call “a children’s dose”. Old school. It’s only been a week, but the difference has been intensely noticeable. First recommended by doctors when I was diagnosed at 4, my parents absolutely refused to put me on it. And ever since I’ve tried every other med and therapy that exists in my refusal to try that one. What changed? A close family member, Beaver actually, I found out was going through the same exact search attempting to deal with the same symptoms. Granted he had never been diagnosed with ADD when we were children, but after relaying a series of symptoms to his doctor it was suggested that he take the standard ADHD written test and sure enough he scored something like an 87 out of 100 on it. Damn close to my 93. [Being an avid and proud skeptic, not only did I insist on taking the test several times in different versions, I also demanded that my wife and several other friends and family members take it as well to see if “everyone” would have the same score if given the same test. I was quite surprised to see that after taking the test on two different occasions, Princess Little Tree scored less than 10 both times. This strange fact helped verify for us that perhaps there was some validity to the test after all and it wasn’t just an over generalisation trap where all who took it would appear to have this popular new dis-ease.]
After a year of trying everything under the sun Beav’s doctor finally said “we could always go old school and try a children’s dose of Ritalin.” His desperate reply, “Well it can’t be worse than all the other things we’ve tried… fine.” After a few months of surprised success and regular use he suddenly remembered ME, thank you (what took you so long?), and realised “Holy crap I have to tell Fishy about this! He has this a lot worse than I do! I wonder if he’s ever tried this one.” I resisted at first, knowing all about it, what it is, what it does, knowing that like most other amphetimines it could make me pass out in ten minutes OR worse cause me massive anxiety…
(Though we’ve still not discovered the genetic abnormality nor even the chemical problem in the human brain of those with ADHD, one very strange characteristic of those who are challenged with it is that speed for lack of a better word, or stimulants of any kind, work in the reverse on them. Thus coffee or tea or diet pills or amphetamines of any kind will usually make someone with ADHD feel sleepy rather than wired. And sure enough any sort of downers such as barbiturates or tranquillisers will make an ADHD person feel more alert, talkative and motivated. I have personally suffered but also benefited from this weird reality since I can remember. If I drink a cup of tea I fall asleep. If I drink a cup of coffee I begin to yawn and feel tired. If i take a valium I feel like I just took speed. It’s crazy weird. But after a few years of dealing with it, one starts getting the hang of how to use it to one’s advantage or else I assume one would just off themselves. Because frankly it’s a terribly confusing and frustrating way to live. If you’ve ever noticed this about yourself there’s a good chance you’ve got either ADD or ADHD and it just hasn’t been diagnosed yet. Now you know.)
Regardless of all this, I have still always resisted taking uppers of any kind. But Beaver sounded so encouraged and relieved from the agonising ADD symptoms he was experiencing that I just decided I had to try it. For the last few years especially, life has been more than challenging. It’s been downright excruciating. I usually refrain from talking or writing about it publicly because number one it’s extremely personal, and number two I don’t wish to influence people in any way one way or another toward believing anything limiting about themselves. But yes if I was to be totally open and brutally honest with the world about this subject, I would admit that I took pain killers for years on a daily basis starting at the age of around 16 in order to manage my attention in order to just do the normal things in life that everyone else seems to have no problem with. This eventually led to a nearly fatal mental and physical breakdown in 2008 that was officially dubbed “exhaustion” to the public and I ended up in a rehab and then my parents’ home to slowly detox and rebuild my health.
The only problem was that I was then faced with having to deal with living daily life with a severely screwed up brain and nervous system (that’s in essence how ADHD feels) without pain killers, and as any doctor or patient will attest, nothing treats ADHD better than opiates. That particular combination of chemicals known as opioids just happens to work the best for people who struggle with the host of symptoms lodged under the ADHD mantle. Late 2008 early 2009 was the worst six months of my life. I was happy to not be always on the chase for pills, but the truth is that in this day and age with online pharmacies so prevalent it was never really a hassle finding or buying them. So it wasn’t like I ever labeled myself an addict. And strangely enough neither did any of the doctors who began treating me. They instead said that I was one of those rare cases of someone who lucked into finding the exact drug that worked best for what they had and I was self medicating with it. It just happened to be illegal to self medicate your ADHD with pain killers. At least now it is. This I predict, and so do many professionals in the psychiatric industry, is going to change sooner than later. There is after all a reason why so many tens of millions of people reach for pain killers and once found find themselves more adept, more efficient, more functional and more productive with even small doses.
There are details to the story that should stay private. For now. Let us agree that it is challenging to wake up one day and realise that the rest of your life you are going to spend with your chest on fire with anxiety, that you can’t focus your attention on anything for more than a second or two, that you are unable to finish anything that you start, that you feel a constant state of fear inside you that literally stings, so much so that you find it excruciating to do the simplest things like go out socially or even answer the phone, let alone have a job or take a shower, that you have a supernatural long term memory but you cannot remember why you entered a room or picked up your phone or a notebook, that you never know what day it is or what the date is, you don’t know your age or anyone’s age for that matter because there’s “that thing with numbers….” Worst of all, you’re always in pain. Life. Just. Seems. And feels. Unbearably painful. At least in the mind and body you are in. And God knows you’ve tried everything that exists or has ever existed on planet earth or anywhere else in the known universe to help or heal, but so far nothing has.
For me now it’s been more than four years of regular visits to psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, specialists, healers, gurus, psychics, mediums, soul readers, you name it. If it exists we’ve tried it. All in our quest to “find out how to fix Fishy.” Princess Little Tree often recounts how crazy, courageous and resilient I am all at the same time because I often appear more like a lab rat than a human in just the sheer amount of medications that have been shoved into my body over the last four years in our attempt to help find a solution. Doctors have been stymied but vigilant. And slowly we’ve found some even ground to rest on. Things have gotten increasingly better. Though I do long to help others, and I think most people would attest to agreeing with that statement, the exact combination of medications that they now use to treat my specific condition I would prefer to keep private except for what’s already been mentioned. It’s been a long and very hard road. Not just for me but for the entire family. I believe Princess Little Tree has probably suffered the most second only to me. She had no idea when we got engaged that it would be this difficult. Frankly neither did I. But that’s the negative spin. The positive spin is that it appears at least this week that we’ve turned a new corner and won a major victory here.
After hearing from Beav regarding his success with Ritalin, I talked to my doctor in New York and he was like “Hey, you’re talking about a very small nearly negligible dose there… It’s less than what we would usually give children. And you usually fall asleep with medications like that. Or they exacerbate your anxiety. But at this point I don’t know what else to do for you and I know you’re struggling bad right now Fishy. I’m willing to try it if you are.” So we did. Worry Fear Anxiety Nervousness all preceded that first morning about one week ago. “Here we go,” my wife’s and my own eyes said to one another as I took the first dose on the first morning, ready for the worst. What would it be this time? A freakout? A massive anxiety attack? I pass out for hours with her hovering over me checking to see if I’m still breathing? An emergency 911 call, paramedics gathered around my bed while I lay there with my hand on my chest gasping for air? All possibilities and former experiences since this adventure first began four years ago.
But instead I felt intensely focused, motivated, energised and in control of my attention for the first time since I used to use Vicodin for the same purpose. After a 30 year battle, including years of self-medicating with both natural and unnatural, legal and illegal substances, ingesting things, not ingesting things, fasting, cleansing, vegan, non-vegan, and every spiritual religious pseudo-spiritual new age practice or self help course ever invented for spies like us I finally know what it’s like to actually feel focused and not totally freaking distracted and unable to control my mind for more than two seconds. I’ve worked harder and smarter in the last five days than I have in years. The caveat: Ritalin IS speed. There’s no getting around that reality. There are side effects. Like last night’s insomnia. (I took my second dose too late in the day.) AND you are going to encounter the usual cadre of well-meaning but ignorant know-it-alls who for some reason misperceive that you’ve solicited their advice as they recount how unhealthy it is and how easy it would be for you to go au natural etc.
But the real message of this ramble is this: Only YOU know YOU and what you’ve been through. And only YOU know what’s worked for you and what hasn’t. It’s really nobody else’s business. And if they are all up on your shit for feeling better, it’s most likely they who need some healing of their own. God only knows you’ve already tried anything and everything they’ll good-naturedly offer you. I moved the majority of this post to the Transcendence Diaries in order to add more details and finish this just for the sake of privacy. Today I have tried to share more openly than I ever have before regarding my own personal experiences with these things, for I know how frustrating it can be for others after years of struggling with it myself. What has worked for me may not necessarily work for someone else. But it just might. You never know till you try. For now, I’m quite surprised that we found something that seems to help. It’s one battle out of many that we are currently facing for some reason slightly ameliorated for the time being. And that’s a damn good thing.