Friday, November 16, 2012

Shadow Boxing, Round 2

"Oh come on, I had to ;)!"
It's now been thirty days since I made the commitment to try an experiment, some "Better living through Chemistry", so to speak. Thirty days ago, I took my first Concerta, and I've been taking it most weekdays ever since.

For those coming in late, feel free to do a search for "Shadow" on my blog and you'll be able to read the whole story, but this is in response to finally deciding to treat Adult ADHD with a doctor's guidance. The added benefit is that I'm taking an exploratory mindset to this. I want the treatment to work, but even outside of all that, the concept of Adult ADHD fascinates me, and I want to see if I can understand how the treatment works.

So first things first... the thought that my core personality would change. According to those that I have asked to see if I was behaving or acting strangely, so far no reports of radical shifts. I seem to be my normally goofy and energetic self, with a slight difference. According to some, my speech patterns have changed a little bit. To put it simply, I'm a classic motormouth; I talk around ideas and in conversations. I think out loud. This has, in the past, translated to my being "overly loquacious". While taking Concerta, people have commented that I am doing this less. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a rather wordy fellow, but it seems I don't mind a little silence now, here and there :).

I was curious to see if my diurnal rhythm would be changed. I have a tendency to naturally want to wake up at 4:00 AM many mornings, and I have a very strong mental state from about 4:00 a.m. to about 7:00 a.m.. I then fade a little from that high between about 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.. From 10:00 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m. I'm at kind of a low tide (not useless, but it's definitely not full throttle Indy 500 style engaged and active). From 2:00 p.m. until about 5:00 p.m. I enter another "brain blast" period (that aforementioned Indy 500 mode). From 5:00 p.m. until about 8:00 p.m., I dig into that mid range again, and from 8:00 p.m. until bed I'm back to that "low tide" state. That's been my historic rhythm for, well, years and years. While on this medication, those periods still map relatively the same time-wise, but the peaks and valleys are less pronounced. This means my "low tide" feels stronger and I can focus better at those times, but that also means that the "blinding brilliance" of those full throttle moments is also a bit more regulated. Ultimately, if it helps me to be more effective for longer periods, and with less noticeable up-shifts or down-shifts, I think I can live with that :).

Concerta acts as an appetite suppressant. I find myself much less frequently running to the fridge or the cupboard during my "flow" periods, and it doesn't feel like I'm Jonesing for food. In short, those "boredom munchies" have been greatly curtailed. I've lost about 10 pounds in the past month with little in the way of changing exercise routines or other habits, so that's been an interesting outcome.

I'm finding that I can focus more on unpleasant or less fun tasks. Entering that "flow state" also seems to be quicker when I need to tackle a big project. It's not a 100% "wow, I'm now able to dig into unpleasant tasks and just be awesome!" Yeah, I wish. I still have to do a bit of psych up and use some of my ever familiar tricks (pomodoro timer, hiding "eye candy", etc.) but I'm finding that I rely on them less than I used to.

I was concerned that taking this medication would mess with my sleep patterns, but actually, they have improved. I think that may also be in part due to the fact that I am now effectively not consuming caffeine. Since I wanted to see what would happen with the medication outside of any additional CNS stimulation, caffeine is mostly out of the equation (I'll have an occasional soda with a meal if it's there, but I don't seek it out). I'm finding that, if I can get seven hours of consistent sleep a night, I'm pretty good to go all day with focus and effective intensity. If I get less than six hours, I am less effective and focused, and if I get more than eight hours, I'm likewise less focused. Seven hours seems to be the sweet spot for me, at least for now.

One of the great changes, and this was one I did not expect, was that Concerta has helped quiet down a number of my anxieties and frustrations. I'm not going to claim a "Peter Gibbons" level of tranquility (for those who don't get that reference, go see "Office Space", and it will make sense :) ), but by finally quieting down some things that were freaking me out, I was able to separate symptoms from root problems, and get some much needed clarity on where I want to point my energy. That clarity culminated in my seeking a new opportunity and, well, changing jobs. I will confess, that was not where I thought this would lead, but it's been a fascinating and very exciting outcome nonetheless.

Yesterday, I had another appointment to evaluate the levels, the reactions and where we go from here. It looks like we'll hold at 36mg per weekday for the next sixty days, and see if there's any retrogression over that time. Again, I am aware that this is not a "silver bullet"; I am still me, and I still have many habits, interests, desires, phobias and dislikes that still shape me. The medication does not erase those, but it does give me an extra tool to help manage them and put them in proper perspective.

Round Three... bring it on :)!!!

No comments: