In the recent past I blogged about my trials and tribulations with my experiences with ADHD working at Automattic. I figured it was time to give a follow up on how things are going!
Back in October last year I started on a medication called Vyvanse to help me cope with the problems that ADHD had been presenting. My ultimate goal with the medication trial was to keep it just that – a trial. I’ve lived with the spastic brain patterns all my life and I just wanted a few months of clarity so I knew what to work towards. Late February, I decided to take myself off the medication.
The first thing I realized when I was on Vyvanse is that my eating patterns got all screwed up. I started losing weight which I felt was a great side-effect since I was almost at my heaviest ever prior to starting the medication. It gave me the jump start I needed to drop the weight. I also stopped a different medication before starting Vyvanse that may have caused an interaction – one that helped alleviate Cluster Headaches (a whole other set of posts for this). Turns out that medication in itself caused the weight to pile on and made it very difficult to lose it.
Immediately after stopping the medication for ADHD I discovered I was somewhat back where I was last summer. Scatter-brained, overwhelmed with the communication from coworkers, and unable to focus on long-term goals. I had to force myself to use the tools my counselor encouraged me to develop while I was on the medication:
- Centering yourself
- Exercise to reset your day (yoga, aerobics, a quick walk)
- Elimination of distractions
- Listening to your own mind
and one of the ones I recently rediscovered myself:
- Writing stuff down in a paper notebook makes me remember it later
Exercise has been a big part of my success, I believe. Three to four days a week I will do some aerobic exercise which usually ends up being step aerobics. It’s simple enough to do at home and it is a great workout. I set up a workout area in my basement so that I can leave the equipment up and it gives me the locale change I need. I also track calories with MyFitnessPal, movement with the Nike+ FuelBand SE and RunKeeper for the social aspect. I have a Withings Scale to help with tracking weight and it syncs across all of the apps to help with calorie burn calculations. Good stuff. I’m down 30lb from my heaviest last summer!
So how’s it going? Well, actually. After a month of the difficulty of readjusting myself to being off the medication I re-discovered one of the things about my personality I missed – my random thoughts and internal tangents. I think that’s one of the reasons I didn’t feel just right – I missed seeing the weird things, the small things, the things people easily pass by. I’m embracing my ADHD and I’m learning how to control it so I can use it as an advantage.
Congrats on expanding your toolset to address ADHD. Exercise is so important, especially to the CS profession. I like your notebook idea. I use Moleskine notebooks as a wallet as well. Here are some hacks http://business.tutsplus.com/articles/the-monster-collection-of-moleskine-tips-tricks-and-hacks–fsw-1182
I also use Pomodoro Timer to work 25 min, rest 5 min. Its the mental equivalent to interval training. http://gigaom.com/2010/11/10/9-free-pomodoro-timers/
Keep the good work!