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It’s been a few months since I shared an update to my post on getting medication for ADHD. You can read about my experience getting diagnosed and a dang prescription here. It took me a YEAR, from start to finish.
Taking my meds this morning, I thought that it was time to share an update with y’all! I hope this post helps people who are contemplating trying meds for ADHD or those looking to support a loved one with ADHD.
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I’m Med-Positive & My Family Rocks
Unlike a lot of people, I was lucky enough to grow up within a family that values therapists and counseling, as well as being open about medications – especially for mental health.
My family is full of brash and bold folks who love and live loudly, and I have really benefited from this culture of acceptance and advocacy. A special shoutout to my Dad and my aunts for being so open and supportive with me!
That said, if you have folks in your life who love you – but can’t get with the ADHD medication program, you don’t need to tell them jack!! Seriously! I have heard from many readers (hi, I love you) who haven’t tried meds for fear of what family members will do or say.
Plot-twist, you can love people without telling them everything. People can love you without needing to sign off on every decision you make.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way – let’s talk dosage and meds!!
Aderall Extended Release (XR) and ADHD
I went with extended release Aderall, mostly because i’m not going to remember to take a second medication during the afternoon. It’s just not gonna happen!
My doc started me off at 10mg, and then every month we upped it by 5mg.
Starting Off: 10mg of Aderall a Day
I brought my diagnosis paperwork to my new psychiatrist in January, and I had monthly appointments with him. When looking for a doctor, I made sure to be very clear on the phone that I wanted to try meds. I literally got on the phone and told receptionists, “I have a diagnosis for ADHD, and I want a doctor who will prescribe and help me test meds.”
Some doctors are reticent to try medication, and that’s totally fine! You do you! I know from PCOS that self-advocacy is the name of the game when working with doctors, so I made sure to be VERY clear about this.
My doctor started me off on 10mg XR, and WOW. The first day was wild.
The biggest change?
I Have Space Between My Thoughts???
I had space between my thoughts. Now that I have Adderall, I realize that my thoughts before were a jumbled mess. I don’t have a good metaphor, but my thoughts often collided and tumbled over each other and there was. never. a. pause.
You could compare my thoughts to billiard balls on a pool table constantly being smashed and jostled, to pop rocks, to wild horses.
Most of my energy in my life has been spent trying to suppress 90% of my brain activity to get stuff done.
With Adderall, it was a revelation. “Is this how everyone else lives?”
Work is No Problem
Normally, I would be able to work 40 minutes to an hour before needing to change rooms, go for a walk or do something, anything, to disengage.
On 10mg, I was able to work a solid 4 hours, no problem.
Raising Dosage: 15mg XR a Day
In February, my doctor took me up to 15mg a day. Some people would’ve stayed at 10mg, but I wanted to push the envelope. My plan was to keep upping my dosage until I had negative side effects.
Is this actually a smart thing to do? Idk. I want to maximize my impact here!
I’ve written about my issues with mental health and anxiety (mostly in my coming out post, here).
Fun Factoid: ADHD often causes increased anxiety, especially in women//those socialized as women, because we can’t keep it together. If I had a dollar for every time I said, “Why can’t I just get my sh*t together” I would have paid off my student loans.
Because I am able to focus with Adderall and get stuff done, this massively decreased anxiety in other areas of my life. I didn’t worry about tracking or forgetting clients. I didn’t freak out about timelines or deadlines. I’m able to do the regular ~adulting~ stuff, because I don’t have to fight my brain.
I’m able to do the regular ~adulting~ stuff, because I don’t have to fight my brain.
Raising Dosage: 20mg XR a Day
I hit my ADHD sweet spot at 20mg a day. I don’t know how to explain it, but my first day at this dosage felt so satisfying – like the click doors of the Mercedes G-Wagon make.
It just came together.
I still struggle with focus sometimes, and I’m still my chaotic muppet self. I didn’t magically turn into someone who would have an organization show on HGTV.
But I am able to more fully live my life, because I’m not fighting my brain.
I take Adderall 3-4x a Week
I still enjoy being my neurodivergent self, and I don’t take Adderall every dang day. There are some things (especially my design and modeling work) that are just better and more enjoyable with this side of me.
I’m really grateful that I can engage different areas of my ilfe, and I no longer have a mental breakdown/sob fest feeling like a failure.
I’m Still Me!
I’ve heard some folks say that they’re worried that ADHD medication will change who they are, fundamentally. I can’t speak to the experience of others, but for myself:
Adderall makes me feel like I can have converations and be fully present with people. Without it I’m distracted by sounds, colors, stray thoughts, etc, and find it hard to focus on the person in front of me.
I’m still me in both conversations, I’m just able to more fully show up with meds.
Recommended Books for ADHD
At the moment, I have three books on my list for reading.
- “BRAIN HACKS: Life-Changing Strategies to Improve Executive Functioning ($12.88) by ADHD expert, Dr. Laura Honos-Webb. This book is all-encompassing for folks with ADHD, focusing on strategies that are implementable in the real world
- The Gift of Adult ADD by Dr. Laura Honos-Webb ($7.48) is a book that you should def order RIGHT NOW if you struggle with negative self-talk and “feeling like an idiot.” <3 The ADHD Advantage ($10.87) tells stories of successful adults with ADHD – a great listen!
TY for reading!
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