This is the result of a mad flurry of typing after spending the early hours of this morning fretting terribly about the direction in which my life is going. I apologise for incoherence, badly constructed sentences, spelling errors and so on. I also hope none of you are offended at all, it was certainly never my intention. This is unedited, hopefully some of the distress and concern that went into writing this will be reflected in its form.
In much the same way that someone suffering from depression looks to anti-depressants for respite from what ails them, so it is that I should look back to Ritalin for a similar result.
Having been off the drug for almost a decade, I find that when I look back on my achievements, the way I’ve handled taxing situations and the mistakes I’ve made, I can’t help but feel that I could have avoided most of these issues had I been medicated at the time. I originally came of Ritalin due to a desire to join the army as an officer. The army requires their recruits to have abstained from class A drugs for a minimum of three years before being accepted, so I cancelled my prescription and flushed what I had left down the toilet.
Those three years came and went and I’m still not an army officer; far from it, I’m a student working part-time selling mobile phones to people with more money than sense. At present I have absolutely no desire to peruse a career in the army, far from it. I plan for a long stint in education and to learn as much as I can as quickly as I can and for that I need to look to my old friend Methylphenidate.
I do so with a sense of excitement and apprehension.
I was prescribed Ritalin toward the end of my primary and throughout the years of my secondary education. When I was very young, maybe eight or nine, my grandmother paid for a series of tests to be conducted at an ADHD specialist center in Horsham, West Sussex. Two or three days later and my parents were told that I definitely suffer from Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. There are lots of children who are diagnosed with just ADD, I was not one of them. Apparently there was now a medical reason for why I was such a shit as a child, why I was a relentless when it came to disrupting classes and why I was so miserable throughout my primary years. I was given a prescription of Ritalin and was told that this would solve all my problems. It did.
Every few months I would visit a lovely woman who’s name escapes me who I now believe to have been a paediatric psychologist. She was awfully kind and her office was a lovely shade of yellow with a duck egg blue frieze running along the wall. She once asked me if I understood what ADHD actually was. I told her I didn’t. She asked me if I tended to take the long way around when performing tasks. I nodded and said yes two or three times.
Here’s what she told me.
There once was a large band of merchants who travelled the land selling their wares to all and sundry. Each of them had a wooden caravan in which they lived and stored their goods, all except one. There was a merchant called Matthew (I assume she used my name so that I could relate) who had ADHD, he didn’t have a caravan, rather his horses pulled a large cart filled with bricks and mortar, and every time the merchants went to set up their camp, Matthew would build himself a small home in which to live.
Now, at the time I wasn’t really thinking about how much of a logistical nightmare this would have been; building and taking down and entire house whenever the band decided to make or move camp, but I was a child and I didn’t give a shit. I’ll continue.
The other merchants laughed at him for his ways, but as far as Matthew was sure he was doing the right thing. Then one evening, just after Matthew had finished building his house, the sky turned dark grey and a great storm approached. All the merchants ran into their caravans and were blown away by the fierce winds, but Matthew was safe in his house with his belongings and he was safe.
So it’s a story to make children suffering from a mental illness feel better about themselves. It made me feel better about myself, certainly. It meant that I wasn’t so ridiculous when I took the long way around a problem as opposed to the short. It meant that, while I was probably thinking about the problem too much, I’d always come to the answer eventually, even if I happened to be a little slow to get there.
I wasn’t an idiot, however. I excelled through the later years of primary school and my eleven plus examination, I managed to get unconditional offers to the three best schools in the county and to what was then one of the top three schools in the south of England. I don’t mean to brag, not by any means but I do want to show you the profound effect that Ritalin had on my standard of living. Not only was I doing well in school, I was doing much better at home. After being prescribed Ritalin I rarely, if ever fell out with my parents, the relationship I had with my brother and sister became much better as the years went on and I was making more friends than I ever had un-medicated. It got me through secondary school and the resulting examinations and, after school, got me through my first job with a reasonable amount of success. But then I stopped medicating.
The difference was remarkable. I was flagging at work who got me into a lot of trouble. I stopped reading and went to playing video games or the majority of my spare time. I stopped wanting to learn about things and, where I once would have spent an evening reading, writing or something of that nature, I’d spend hours in front of a screen chatting to idiots on the Internet or on, dare I admit it, Faceparty of all the horrific and poisonous places to be. In short, I was wasting my time.
As I’ve grown older I’ve become far more aware of the importance of educating oneself for the sake of education. I’ve also become convinced that my problem with ADHD has followed me well into adulthood. As it stands now I’m just itching to learn as much as I can about everything around me. My brain is crying out for information, yet my lazy, bone-idle self is denying it the one thing it wants. I’ll do it later, I’ll read that tomorrow, Ill finish that essay once my Hunter’s level 45; all perfectly shit attempts at procrastination which all work perfectly. I need to break out of this cycle of doing nothing with my spare time and start doing something worthwhile.
Ritalin will help.
However there is a downside to all this; the apprehension I mentioned earlier. I haven’t been on Ritalin for so long that I’m worried about what it’ll do to me. I seem to remember being much quieter and calmer as a medicated child, more reserved and pensive. In short, a whole other person.
My mother would give me time off the drug every once in a while just to run around like a fanny and be, well, a child. Mum would make sure to keep the Ritalin away when I went out to play football or rugby with my friends. Matron (yes, yes – “Pongo’s off to get some tuck from the dorm”, rah-rah-rah etc.) would keep me off Ritalin when hockey or rugby matches were scheduled for the day. I suspect it was their way of letting me loose for a while, giving me some space to be myself, to be a child again. I don’t quite know if I’m prepared to make that level of change as an adult. A lot of people like me because of the way I act around them. They’re seeing the real me and I’m not sure if I want to change.
But to continue the comparison I made earlier; someone suffering from depression can make a choice to take anti-depressants in the hopes that he or she may be able to enjoy a better quality of life, I look to Ritalin to give me a better standard of living. I don’t want to be worried about whether or not I’ll lose my job tomorrow because of just how lazy I am, how many corners I cut and how many risks I knowingly take. I don’t want to live in constant fear of my lack of dedication to anything. I don’t want my education to be washed away just because I’m lazy. It was laziness that got me into trouble in the first place and it was Ritalin that got me out of it. I want a better quality of life.
Maybe I’m just inherently lazy. Maybe I can be the change I wish to see in myself without Ritalin and maybe I can become a better person if I choose to ignore the drug. I think there’s only one way to find out.
I’m off to see my GP.