This is my story of my fifteen year struggle with an addiction.
It may not be your typical addiction, but it was my struggle. It still is my struggle.
Everyone has a story, and it may not be the same shape or size as the person next to you. I’m writing this to not only inform but also as a plea to always be kind and understanding because no one has it all together.
It started in college as a simple way to stay up to study or stay up late to party.
I would only take it occasionally in the beginning. Then I actually was diagnosed with ADD and was prescribed my very own prescription of Adderall. If I had known then that this was the beginning of a 15 year struggle, I may have turned that prescription down.
I never saw myself as addicted.
I figured this was something that my doctor prescribed for me so it was fine to take it as I needed. I thought dropping down to a size zero was a positive side effect of the meds and saw nothing wrong with staying up all night long after my husband went to bed. I was transferred out of state after Hurricane Katrina, and my dependency got worse. I took it constantly to focus on my work and not the fact that I was separated from my husband and my life was on hold.
I continued to take Adderall until I was finally back home, and we decided to start a family. It seemed like such a necessity until I realized I was about to grow a tiny human in my body, and it needed to go. I stopped taking it immediately and focused on becoming pregnant. I didn’t start thinking about it again until about three months after my daughter’s birth. She struggled with nursing so was bottle fed and was a difficult baby who rarely slept long. I went back to my doctor and started back on my prescription. I really thought it would help me get my life together. Maybe I could finally get some control back in my life and figure this mothering thing out.
It did quite the opposite; I slept even less.
I couldn’t sleep when she slept and started to have anxiety attacks on top of being sleep deprived. This brought on anxiety and postpartum depression so my OB/GYN put me on medication for that. No one around me knew what my struggle was. My own husband didn’t even realize how dependent I was on the medication. This same routine carried on for the next year until we decided to grow our family again.
No matter how much I felt I needed it, I never once thought about taking it while pregnant or nursing, I want to make that very clear. What I didn’t realize until I completely gave it up was that I wasn’t only happier because I was pregnant … I was happier because I would slow down and take everything in. When I was medicated, I was always on high speed and didn’t stop to enjoy life so much.
Thankfully my second child was an easy baby who nursed and slept like a champ. I had a much different experience with her and didn’t go back to my doctor again until after she was finished nursing. I don’t know why I always felt the need to go back. Adderall was like my crutch. I felt I needed it to keep my life in order and have control. It got so bad that I began to lose count of how many I had taken throughout the day. I would take one to get the kids to school and another to clean the house. I even felt like I couldn’t go to dinner with friends without taking one. I felt it would help with my social anxiety, but it rarely did. It would make me more nervous.
I was popping Adderall all day long.
I would tell myself every day that today I was not going to take any, and then something would come up and I would say “okay just one.” Then that would wear off and I would take another, and so on. Having ADD and two young children is like have double the ADD, if that is possible. I was always pulled in a million directions like any mother, but I felt that if I stopped taking my medication then everything would fall apart. I struggled with finishing tasks, and now with a toddler and infant, I felt completely out of control.
Then we decided to have another baby.
And I did the same as the last two. My third baby was also a fantastic nurser and sleeper. I nursed until he was done and then again went back to the doctor. I think I was starting to see my cycle and see how it was affecting my family. I was impatient with them. I didn’t spend time playing because I felt like I needed to be cleaning or doing a project around the house. I was living on fast forward and after about a year of taking it again, I finally decided no more. I remember when my prescription was out, and I made my next appointment. Then I called to cancel. I have never gone back.
It has been about three years now since I have taken any. There have been a few times where I have thought about it. How easy it would be to take it again to help me focus and even lose a few pounds. But then I remember how bad I actually felt, how exhausted and unhealthy I was.
Addiction runs in my family and I was not going to let this take control of me any longer. It took me years to say yes I have a problem and no I shouldn’t be so dependent on this. Because my thoughts were this doesn’t happen to people like me. I am your typical stay at home mom whose life on the outside looks pretty perfect. But everyone has their struggles … everyone has a secret vice and this was mine.
I have promised myself that I will never go back to those days.
My house may not be clean every day, but at least I am happy now. I can say a nice cup of coffee will get me through the day and not a day full of stimulants out of a bottle. I thought taking Adderall would make me a better mother and wife. It turns out that they just need me with all of my imperfections. I have become quite the opposite of what I was. I rarely take medication now and am healthier than I have every been. I deal with my ADD in other ways, and it’s not always easy. Exercise, meditation, natural remedies like essential oils and focusing on what is right in front of me gets me through each day. I have realized that happiness is the goal and not perfection.