Posts Tagged ‘Ritalin’

So Oriental. Soooo Sneaky

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

I’m a big in-head conversationalist.  I’m sure that I could solve the world’s problems if someone just gave me an hour or two of long car ride and potentially a can of coke (which is good, because as previously mentioned, I am maybe kind of probably responsible for them).  Mostly right now I focus on the great global travesty of how to convince my psychiatrist that I don’t want another SSRI to try just yet, but you know, I could branch out.  If I wanted to.

Sometimes now just after I finish writing here, everything that happens in my life gets mentally blogged instead.  And let me tell you, that blog would be defectively fascinating.  Like a puppy with two heads, or a scab that looks sort of like a major political figure, or one of those cat hairs that manages to weave its way through my clothes.  Plus, two times more ninjas than I write about here.

I’ve ended up on sort of a de facto schedule lately.  Not the type of schedule that my therapists have gently encouraged me towards (or away from, depending on which side of “all or nothing” I happen to be falling on that week), but it is meshing into something consistent enough that I find myself starting to work around it.  I can’t do that then.  That’s when I wander back and forth jittering.  …Duh.

This morning I am putting my newfound self-enlightenment to work, and experimenting with forcing myself to sit down here and write before the morning coffee has worn off, and the Ritalin starts to take its mid-afternoon downturn.  I think perhaps that I am suffering some of that “ego-centric” side effect loveliness that they mention in relation to things like this that mess with dopamine.  Largely because the times like this that I have the energy to accomplish things like “paperwork” and such, it seems like a solidly poor idea.  I will not debase myself with these “insurance forms you speak of!”  …Then by around 4pm I’m crashed out on the couch in a pile wondering what the hell I was thinking, and making resolutions that clearly I will take care of it tomorrow.

Yes.  Clearly.

So yes, posting here while I have the energy.  On the plus side, it means less mopey-frowny deep analysis of my life and goals and inner workings.  Down side, none of this makes any sense.  …But more ninjas.

Plus, I really know how to let a thing go.

Vader’s Team

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

A while ago, I read a book called “Learned Optimism.”  It was recommended to me by my psychologist, primarily for my husband (as I had recently introduced her to his tendencies towards occasional voracious negativity) but also for me.  But why? I asked myself.  I am the eternal optimist.  Always have been.  I am the “silver lining,” “everything for a reason,” “look on the bright side” kind of person.  I have been engaging in CBT to try to modify some of my core beliefs because “people should be happy all the time” is not really realistic as a life goal.

Turns out, when defined psychologically, I am a terrible pessimist.  I put my husband to shame.  In the “normal world,” though, optimism is pretty strongly linked with trying to be positive about things.  In psych terms, the perfect optimist sees everything as temporary, limited in scope, and not their fault.

Everything is my fault.

Restaurant got my order wrong?  Husband seems grumpy?  Mom’s feeling guilty?  Coworker snaps at me?  Awkward silence?  Given inappropriate medication?  Not past the depression yet?  Must be me, at least partly.  I am vividly aware that I am at least partially responsible for almost all of the bad things around me.

Global warming?  I’m pretty sure I had a hand in that.

I recognize clearly that other people or circumstances may have a hand in these as well, but that isn’t where my focus goes.  I am immediately reflecting on what I could have done differently or better to prevent whatever it is that was undesirable.  Even now that I’m aware of it and sometimes try to deliberately think about another person’s role in things, my mind is constantly interrupting with the “yeahbut.”  Yeah, but if I had been articulating more clearly I’m sure they would have heard me correctly.  Yeah, but if I had said the right things at our appointment, then I’m sure he would have known what to prescribe.

And as much as I hate to admit it, and can see rationally that it’s just not true, at my heart I do have a hard time recognizing that unpleasant situations are just a transient blip on my emotional radar and not the signal that something permanent and dire is going on.

I am feeling generally tired today.  The last few have actually been pretty good for that.  I’ve had a pretty predictable “high” around two hours after I take my morning Ritalin.  I had tentative visions in my head of what I would do with that high today.  And I waited.  And I waited.  And I waited.  And it never came.  First instinct?  THE RITALIN IS NOT WORKING.  There is no particular panic to the statement, just an intense dawning realization.  I was mistaken.  I thought it was helping, but it must have been some other set of circumstances that was making it seem like it was.  Maybe just the timing of my morning coffee (which I can drink again now that the Prozac and its coffee-hangovers are gone!).  The Ritalin does nothing for me.

See, this is the way it almost always works for me.  Unless I focus really, really hard on it (and even sometimes then), my mind immediately decides that I’ve been mistaken in my perceptions of all good things previous, and that this one piece of negative information is what’s real.   Twenty pieces of evidence that I’m doing well and then one that I’m not?  I’m not.  Hours of great conversation with someone and then a stray comment that leaves me feeling misunderstood?  Maybe I can’t really trust them.  Maybe they don’t really get me at all.  Fifty pieces of really positive feedback in a job evaluation and one thing needing improvement will send me scurrying out of the room to work my ass off.

So today, maybe Ritalin is useless.  Sigh.

I will point out that I just finished editing a big list of tips on weathering antidepressant withdrawal symptoms in which I mention the importance of keeping one’s blood sugar stable.  And that I’ve eaten barely anything today.  Except milk.  Which my husband keeps telling me doesn’t count as a meal.

What does he know anyway?

(…besides geography.)

(which helps a lot when we play as a team in Trivial Pursuit)

How Ritalin Works Differently On People Who Do Not Have ADD

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

When you have ADD, Ritalin is supposed to sort of “normal out” your brain. Not so for others. Ritalin is a stimulant, like coffee. When you have caffeine, it lights up your whole brain a little brighter for a while. When you take Ritalin, it lights up the part you’re focused on more brightly, and dims down everything else. This is why when people who take it without a prescription for things like study cram sessions (which honestly, from what I’ve read seems like not the best idea) don’t know what they’re doing, they can spend their whole study time with their brain unintentionally fixated on the music they’re playing in the background, and at the end of the night their dopamine reward centres will have helped them decide that they REALLY love that song…but have no idea when the IRS was founded.

I illustrate:

Me: (with a dramatic build-up, signaling that an important conversation is about to begin) So…

Husband: (raises eyebrow) …



Me: (now staring happily but blankly, wondering what activity we should do next)

(The participants in that clip are not actors)

…Okay, so to be honest this isn’t ENTIRELY unlike my normal daily behaviour. I did, in the recent past, immediately get up from my kitchen stool and run to grab the laptop upon realizing that neither I nor my husband could produce a mental picture of a live scallop (he was making scallops as an addition to his half of dinner. …I do not as a rule enjoy eating things that swim.). And, after Google images had put me at ease, was completely boggled at how he could just calmly go about his business when there’s a sea creature out there are HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE. It’s like how he can sit there for hours doing other things while an unopened birthday present for him sits on top of our regular mail. Is the man made of iron?

(incidentally, scallops are creepy looking little things. Many, beady little eyes. …Not appetizing)

At any rate, the habit does seem to be rather…emphasized…when the medication’s at its peek.

…What was I writing about?

Hey! Two cats talking!

…Those crazy cats.


Monday, February 22nd, 2010

I’ve just noted that Windows has been nice enough to put a little bubble on my “Calculator” feature to let me know that it performs basic arithmetic. Thank you, Windows. You always know just how to help.

I have a Word document on my desktop in which I started to keep track of techniques, information, tips, strategies, insights, suggestions, and other depression-related stuff that I found helpful, but didn’t get around to mentioning here. I figured it would be best not to forget what was working so that, say a week later when I had fallen off the wagon, I could drudge it up in the future and remind myself of what I used to know. Five pages of briefly truncated point-form later, it seems to be growing a little more rapidly than the stuff I’ve actually taken time to properly document. And I’m getting things like “perfectionism – adequate,” which I can still make sense of at the moment, but I imagine may confuse me if this whole “abnormal brain chemistry” thing doesn’t get entirely resolved within the next month or so.

The fact that my brain has alighted on this (…okay, and the fact that I can’t seem to access the Dooce community site) as inspiration to sequester myself for the day (do you like how I implied there that I haven’t been semi-continuously sequestered? Nice, huh?) and write up every tiny detail of my journey through depression treatment thus far (do you think too many brackets would throw off the flow of this sentence? Maybe?) tells me that perhaps today’s morning dose of Ritaliny stimulant goodness is kicking in. That, and the fact that my movement from place to place for the past twenty minutes probably qualifies more closely as “dancing” than…er…not dancing.

So, I have ensconced myself comfortably on the couch, and even cracked the blinds a little (the neighbor’s teen walked by once and happened to glance in my direction, and that was that for a while with the windows. Ah, medication-induced anxiety.). I will Write like I have never Written before (maybe with…appropriate capitalization, then?). I will Document. I will Detail. I will Use Too Many Brackets.

…for about the next fifteen minutes or half hour tops, probably.  Then I will go back to watching TV and waiting to take my next pill, having already used up the bulk of my productively medicated time writing down my ambitions here.

Also, getting an ergonomic keyboard has apparently made me into a bit of a goob when it comes to interacting with the Normal Keyboard World. I’m using our laptop. There may be drool involved.

Darn self-promises made on medication highs

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

So I promised myself I would try to write here more frequently again.  Of course, what seemed like a very do-able and brilliant idea at the peek of a medication-induced period of hyperactivity is looking significantly more shady at times like this where brushing my teeth seems like a lot of work (Not too much, mind you.  I am minty fresh; just reserve the right to swoon a little at the effort).

(I used a semi-colon there.  Did you notice?  Probably incorrectly.  I hate semi-colons.)

I guess it feels like there isn’t much to say today.  I can’t even detail what I had for lunch, as I seem to have skipped it in favour of being WAY too hungry all afternoon.  The boring bloggers of the world have a leg up on me.  How’s that for sad?

Today was a day of Grand Ambitions, followed by Grand Avoidance, with an aftershow of chocolate.  To be honest, I’m finding things in general a little more frustrating than they have been now that I have recent productive/well periods to compare to.  Makes me more inclined to start my day with ambitions requiring capital letters.  …whether or not I will reliably be feeling up to following through.

Sometimes it surprises me a little the bits of sadness or frustration I pick up on in what I write here.

On a related note, I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately trying very hard to look at the thoughts and emotions that I am trying very hard not to look at.

I have not yet figured out what would qualify as “success” in that statement.

Hello Darkness, my old nemesis

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

4:50pm.  Half an hour ago, I was considering what else I wanted to do most today.  Doing didn’t seem difficult.  Now, I am exhausted, and activities no longer seem interesting.  Involved activities no longer seem possible.  Frustrating.  When the medication is in my system, I forget how much is truly sucks now when it’s not.  When it’s gone, I forget how truly possible things used to be, and I find myself just wanting time to pass me by so that I can try again tomorrow.

I can easily see why the dopamine reuptake inhibitors can become addictive.  I’m feeling pretty dependent already, and I haven’t even been taking them a week yet.

I think perhaps it is time for a sandwich.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

It is almost 2:30 in the afternoon, and I’m riding quite the high.  I have done more this morning than I have in the past month.  I am not sure whether this is a good thing, but I am enjoying it.

I also keep forgetting to eat.  Deep down, I’m sure this is likely not a good thing either, but that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it too.  ;)

My husband likes these pills

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Well,…I have given the Ritalin a fair try now.  It isn’t really for depression per-say, but it does seem to be improving things dramatically for short periods of time.  I now have 2-3 (non-consecutive) hours per day where I feel almost capable of accomplishing something.  The rest of the time, I sort of feel like a frustrated, drained out husk.  They do make it in a more extended-release version.  It’s possible that would help.  Either way, I’m hopeful that this gives me new information; maybe some kind of clue as to what will be more reliably helpful.  I appear to still sound bitter though.  Sometimes I don’t pick up on things like that right away.

Each pill only lasts in the system for a maximum of four hours, they say.  I’m only supposed to take two per day, and they certainly don’t actually affect anything for the full four hours or anything close to it.   The times that my body is without the medication, or that I’m not yet feeling the effects kind of suck.  The periods of “high” aren’t precisely “normal” either, I would say.  At the moment, as on most days it seems, I feel a bit like my mind and body are in hyperdrive.  My heart seems to race a bit, I’m a bit jittery, and speak and act impulsively, and I feel the urge to run everywhere I go.  I don’t actually feel like I have any extra legitimate energy, though.  Just that my body is using it up at an incredible rate.  …Like I’m sort of concentrating my whole day’s energy into an hour or so, or running at full steam despite my batteries being already dry.  Probably shouldn’t surprise me then that once the high wears off, I feel like I’ve been beaten by a rabid sloth.  The major expenditures of energy, like…oh….breathing, and lifting one’s feet when one walks….seem like too much of an effort for the rest of the day.

Other times, though more rarely, I get totally and unexpectedly drunk off the stuff.  The kind of drunk where you’re sitting in a restaurant and laugh so loud that your husband gets a partly amazed, partly mortified look on his face.  The kind where it seems like it might just be a good idea to approach random people and go “WOO!”.  You know.  That kind.

The part that’s really been driving me crazy is that it’s unpredictable.  I can never be sure when I take that pill if I’ll get a period of lucidity at all, or how powerfully, or when it will happen.  Damn inconvenient for getting my hopes up.

I am hopeful, though.  Perhaps not that Ritalin is the answer (but again, Ritalin isn’t even actually an antidepressant), but that it might tell me what is.  Both Ritalin and Wellbutrin are the only things that have produced a significant positive change (and it is…shall we say…noticeable when it’s there).  Both affect dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain.  The serotonin stuff doesn’t seem to do anything but give me side effects and make me extra miserable.  Additionally, the serotonin and norepinephrine combo of Effexor made me want to lie down in a ball and cry my soul out my nose.  So…dopamine, maybe?  Worth investigation, I would think.  There are things I can do to my diet to try to raise those levels too.

Of course, on the other side, I could just be so high on the dopamine that I don’t notice that I would normally be horribly depressed.  It is, after all, the same thing that cocaine and methamphetamine do.  Seriously, reading down the list of side effects, who wouldn’t feel better on this stuff?

And I quote…

  • A general and subjective alteration in consciousness
  • Stimulation, arousal, and hyperactivity
  • Increased alertness, awareness, and wakefulness
  • Increased energy and endurance
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Enhanced attention, focus, and concentration
  • Increased desire, drive, and motivation
  • Improved cognition, memory, and learning
  • Goal-oriented thoughts or organized behavior
  • Rapid speech and/or racing thoughts
  • Antidepressant benefits or mood lift
  • Euphoria and/or rushes of pleasure
  • Anxiolysis and/or stress reduction
  • Sociability and/or talkativeness, as well as enhanced charisma and/or humor
  • Increased self-confidence, arrogance, and/or egotism
  • Feelings of power, grandiosity, and superiority
  • Irritability, aggression, anger and/or rage
  • Impulsivity or impetuousness
  • Hypersexuality and aphrodisiac effects

And the “down sides” include decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss.  Dude.  This pill is magic.

Compare, if you will, to the most common effects of the first serotonin-related antidepressant I took…

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Somnolence (i.e. falling randomly asleep)
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Weight Gain
  • Decreased Libido
  • Anorgasmia (i.e. complete inability to reach orgasm)

Hmmm…give me a moment to decide here…I’ll go with…um…gosh, this is hard.   Okay,…let’s do the stimulating, euphoric aphrodisiac that makes me more charismatic.

I do have to say that if this truly turns out to me my issue, I think I got the sweet end of that deal.

My Experience With Rital – Oooo! Shiny!!

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

My psychiatrist advised adding Ritalin to the antidepressant (Luvox) he currently has me on, to try to combat the soul-draining fatigue that’s come with it.  Don’t really think it’s doing a thing for the depression either, but that’s another story.

At any rate, he directed me very clearly on how to take the Ritalin.  One pill first thing in the morning.  Then another at precisely 12:00 noon.  I may split the pills for a while if I feel the need to try a lower dose.  If it’s working, I will know right away (and boy, will I know).  It will stop working abruptly at 4pm, but do not under any circumstances take any after 12:00, as it could seriously muck with my sleeping.

This morning my husband is running too late for us to have our usual breakfast together, so I wake up around noon (see soul-draining fatigue) and creep out to the kitchen to take my first pill.  My heart is a little bit aflutter about this, as it’s now been more than four months since I wasn’t in a medication-induced semi-comatose sleep haze.  Think of all the things I might get done today!  I could make a phone call!  And send that fax!  And put on socks (and I don’t even like socks!)!

So I carefully split my tiny-dose pill in half.  I know my physiology well enough by now to know that if something “may have mild side effects,” it will knock me flat on my ass.  I choose the smallest half.  I get some water.  I take the pill.  I stand in the kitchen for a moment like an idiot, like fairy dust will start flying off me within seconds of swallowing it.  Around 20 minutes later, I am still feeling nothing, so I creep back to the kitchen and take the other half of that pill.  Then I go sit on the couch like I normally would.  Because it is early.  And I am exhausted.

Fast forward to 2:30pm.  The plumber is here to look at our washing machine area (the trials of which are a novella of their own).  I am still on the couch.  I am still exhausted.  I am secretly wondering if maybe I’ve had ADD for the last thirty-some years and just didn’t know it.  I think very hard to see if I can suddenly concentrate more clearly.  I do not think I can.

It is ten after seven in the evening.  I am in the kitchen.  I abruptly start singing to the frozen pizza I am holding.  I want to paint the house.  And my cat.  I am hyper.  Hoo-boy, am I hyper.  I am overwhelmingly, dazzlingly, dance around because I cannot seem to sit down hyper.  …And exhausted.  There is fairy dust.

What the heck is wrong with my body chemistry?