Surprise!

fluSometimes I wish I just had the flu.

You know, you have a sore throat, a fever, a cough, maybe even a little upset stomach. There are very visible, outside symptoms. You can go to the doctor, he (or she) can look at you and compare the data in front of them to what they learned in medical school and then make a reasonably well-informed guess as to what is wrong with you. Then they can write you a prescription that is time-tested to cure whatever it is that is ailing you, whether it is actually the flu or some other illness you’ve managed to contract. Lie down for a day or two, take your medicine, and next thing you know, you’re good as new.

If only problems with the human mind could be as easily solved.

As I have written here before, I was diagnosed a couple of years ago with dysthymia or dysthymic disorder. To show how quickly terminology can change in mental health, however, it is now known as “persistent depressive disorder.” I have tried out several medications in an attempt to curb the symptoms of this particular form of depression, experiencing varying degrees of success with each one. I am currently taking Abilify, which is technically not even an antidepressant, but it seems to be working fairly well for me. “Fairly well,” however, does not equal “very well,” so I made an appointment several months ago to see a psychiatric doctor about what I should be taking.

Now, before anyone becomes overly concerned about me, the term “psychiatric doctor” pretty much just means a counselor-type who can prescribe psychiatric drugs (Yes, I am aware I just totally insulted the profession with that dumbed-down description.). I was not wrapped up in any kind of straightjacket or confining clothing, and no one attempted to have me admitted to any kind of facility. The appointment was more like a friendly chat discussing my symptoms and what medicine (or medicines) might work best to combat them.

Have you ever been to see the doctor, though, nearly absolutely convinced you knew exactly what was wrong with you and what the doctor needed to do to cure you? I approached yesterday’s appointment with that type of mindset. I was depressed and had been experiencing some anxiety-like symptoms, so I figured I obviously needed to review antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications and let the doctor determine which ones would work best for me.

How in the world, then, did I walk out of there with a prescription for Adderall?adderall

In case you’re not familiar with Adderall, it is most commonly used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (better known as ADHD). I do get sleepy sometimes, but not enough to constitute a diagnosis of narcolepsy, so that only leaves you one guess as to why it was prescribed to me.

That’s right: Mr. Shy, Mr. Good Grades All Through School, Mr. Back of the Room at a Party was told yesterday he met five of the 10 criteria for adult ADHD.

Huh?

adhdI thought people with ADHD were the ones who couldn’t shut up. I thought they were the ones who struggled with bad grades all through school. I thought they were the ones who couldn’t sit still for more than five minutes at a time. I don’t fit any of those descriptions. I just got A’s in my two master’s classes. Why do I have a prescription for Adderall now?

It actually makes more sense than it might initially seem. I have always had a bit of a wandering mind. I remember being young and my dad trying to teach me how to work on cars. I don’t remember a word of what he told me. I know even now during sermons or long lectures, I have a tendency to nod off or lose attention. I have a horrible time getting organized, and as much as I talk about wanting to be a writer, I never actually get focused enough to put anything down on paper (or computer screen). I can barely pick out a shirt to wear in the morning without having a low-level debate with myself.

This kind of scatteredness is what drew the doctor to his opinion that I might need to be treated for ADHD. Actually, it sort of came down to a coin flip between that and anxiety, and since anti-anxiety medicines sort of slow you down and I’ve been struggling with drowsiness lately, we decided to try the ADHD treatment first.

Today was my first day on the drug, so I’m still not sure how much of what I experienced were actual effects and how much was placebo. I do know I was much more awake than I have been for a quite some time, and I did tons of work at my computer today. On the sort of weird side, I didn’t eat anything between breakfast and dinner. Not a snack or anything. Didn’t even want food. I guess this could possibly be a positive, as I seem to gained a few pounds since I started taking Abilify. Kind of hoping it isn’t an everyday occurrence, though.

As with any drug, one day’s worth of results is not enough to measure the effects of taking it, so I still couldn’t tell you if attempting to lessen the effects of ADHD (which I may or may not even have) is the right way to go for me. There may be a complete reversal of treatment in my future. Or there may not be.

Sometimes I wish I just had the flu.

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Out Of Rhythm

I’m off.

Some of this is actually my fault. For reasons I have never been able to explain, I tend to stay up later at night when I’m depressed. I was kind of down in the dumps for a few days last week, and the next thing I knew I was still awake at 10:30 or 11 o’clock at night, which wouldn’t be bad if I didn’t wake up at 4 in the morning to go to work Monday-Friday. By Friday night (when my mood had actually improved significantly), I was starting to feel the effects of not sleeping enough earlier in the week.

So, like any male who thinks he can fix any problem by simply swinging completely and ridiculously in the opposite directionCircadianRhythm of his current behavior, I decided I was going to turn in early Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. I knew the time change of “falling back” an hour would be thrown in there, but it usually doesn’t bother me because I like getting the extra hour of sleep. By Monday, my mind reasoned, I should be right back on track.

Except that didn’t really happen.

I went to bed at 8:10 p.m. last night, thinking I’d hit the ground running to begin the work week. The weird thing was, I woke up feeling more tired this morning than I did any of those days I stayed up too late last week. And, to be perfectly honest, I’d rather be sleeping right now than typing this. All of a sudden, I went from not wanting to sleep to not feeling like I can sleep enough.

So now I’m a little off.

I tried reading up today on circadian rhythms, and I’ve seen plenty of articles discussing the importance of sleep for those who suffer from depression. Is it really that important, though? The argument almost devolves into the “chicken or the egg”: Do I not sleep because I’m depressed, or am I depressed because I don’t sleep? Or does it really matter either way? Depression or no depression, there is a definite rhythm to our bodies that can be thrown out of alignment. And when the body is out of alignment, well, the mind…

That’s why I’m wrapping this post up without any kind of particular lesson or insight or anything like that. I’m tired, I’m off, and I need to get back on. Goodnight, all. May your minds and bodies be in perfect sync in the morning.