Reconsider taking adderal this testing season

Anonymous

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The Jolly Roger’s publication of an anonymous Op-Ed essay has been done at the request of the author, whose identity is known to us.

The woes of the ADHD child are numerous. Organization, clumsiness of thoughts, even basic motor skills become difficult at times. The characteristic inattention, and a constant need to blurt out the first thing that surfaces in your head can make school difficult, but should by no means make it impossible.

Borderline impossible to excel, maybe, but never to stay afloat with your head above the water. It’s terrible. I love it. What were we talking about? ADHD, right. It’s not impossible to manage, especially with medications with just a single chemical compound less than methamphetamine (the “meth” part). Yet as one who “suffers” with this, I genuinely wonder as to the validity of ADHD. Not whether it exists or not, of course it exists, but whether its nature warrants its categorization as a mental illness under the DSM-V.

Not that its definition is a terrible thing. Labels are a necessary evil in psychology, necessary to at least differentiate between groupings of symptoms. Amphetamine salts, no matter how many FDA tests they’ve survived before being packaged, shouldn’t be prescribed to children. America really needs to take precautions to ensure that mental health issues don’t proliferate in their attempts to stop one. My teachers always said the same thing.

One said I was “acting up” and made me sit in for lunches and breaks because of my Restless Leg Syndrome. I wouldn’t and couldn’t stop singing “Highway to Hell.” I also had ADHD, according to every single teacher I’ve ever had (“Yes, yes… we’re working through his hyperactivity at home.

No, I won’t see the doctor about drugging my eight-year old son.”) I caved to the academic pressure freshman year and my doctor prescribed me Adderall, a medication which couldn’t have been dangerous, seeing as it took my probably-stoned psychiatrist roughly 10 minutes and a trip to the Nespresso machine for the boost necessary to type out my form as quick as he possibly could. Before I knew it, I was on my way to the pharmacy in San Rafael, where the kindly lady at the desk advised me to “Take two pills daily, with water! Don’t forget to stay hydrated!”

\I decided to pop one or two of those little blue saccharine candies one particularly study-intensive night in sophomore year. I wish I could remember more details about my state of mind, but details of that prolonged year are fleeting. It’s as if that year of my life belonged to someone else, and I don’t mean the puberty monster. Sitting at my computer, I was listening to “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The song became inexplicably intense, the melodic progression became a cacophony of incoherent notes.

My vision doubled, divided by a distinct border of static fuzz, before seeming to snap back together and take on a red hue. The next three hours were of distinct paranoia, full-blown hallucinations. That night, and subsequent nights, damaged something in my psyche. Now for the kicker: that damage to my psyche’s graduating effects included complete loss of motivation, difficulty in forming sentences, an even shorter attention span, and worsened short-term memory.

So then I was back to failing, and at that point my excuse was lost somewhere in between “the dog ate my homework” and “how can I do math when the numbers won’t stop flying off the page?” It would probably come out something more like “How… the dog flew- ate, numbers?” So what happened that fateful night I decided to cram and study? According to Chantel Garrett, founder of the website Partners for Strong Minds (P4SM), “during an episode of psychosis, the brain is basically in a state of stress overload,” continuing to say that when the stress can no longer be processed by the brain “the processing of information and emotions is impacted, resulting in trouble perceiving reality.” I’ll be fine, but it’s not me I’m worried about.

Psychosis is something absolutely terrifying, and even more so when one day you’re fine and the next day you’re seeing the Eye of Sauron on your wall. Prescription abuse is more prevalent than it should be, and the unfortunate mediocrity of our education system tends to make it worse. AP tests are just around the bend and way too close for comfort. It’s a time of academic stress which can be conducive to a multitude of bad decisions, usually binge-drinking, pill-popping, and pulling all-nighters. All of which are terrible for you and all of which can have repercussions down the line; trust me, I know. So come finals, put down the pills, dump out your bottle, and try not to go psychotic!