Here we go again…

My psychiatric nurse practitioner was not open to me trying anything new for ADHD. She wanted to increase my Adderall so that I am now taking the max dose per day for adults. I loved the Adderall at first. Even the smallest dose made a huge difference initially. It was like it turned all the noise off in my head. I was shocked. Is this how other people experience life? Is it quiet in other people’s brains? Is there not a steady, heavy stream of thoughts constantly interrupting each other? Do other people really think about one thing at once, without ten or more other things popping in, threatening productivity? Can other people avoid hyperfocusing on something not important? Do they really feel time pass by in a “normal” way? They don’t lose track at all? They don’t live by a series of alarms to help them stay on track and not miss anything? It was mind blowing with that first dose of Adderall. My mind was suddenly quiet for the first time in my entire life.

But it didn’t last. It wore off more quickly than it was supposed to and the afternoon dose did nothing at the lowest dose. She had warned me that the afternoon dose would likely be less effective anyway.

She stepped me up after a month. And it was amazing. The morning dose lasted until it was time for the next dose. I felt so much more productive and focused on things. My emotions were more in check and I didn’t have as many of those incidents where i shut down completely and can’t do anything. And when I did have them, I came out of them more quickly. That lasted a long time for me. It had been over a year I was at that dose. And then these last few months it wasn’t really touching it. The noise in my head was so much worse because I knew what it felt like to not have that noise anymore. I was shutting down a ton and not knowing how I spent my entire day. Days were just slipping away from me.

Last week she said that since it was working for me before, she’d like to take that last step up. So now I get to deal with the stomach aches again. Not wanting to eat anything even though I know I should. I’m not underweight, so it’s not a big deal if I lost a few pounds, but I hate feeling off at all. I did a lot of fasting in the past and it wasn’t controlled fasting. It was emotional fasting. It was an eating disorder, if I’m being 100% honest with myself. I was anorexic for years. I was weak all the time and fought through periods of dizziness and brain fog. So not wanting to eat feels bad to me. It feels like I might be headed down a bad path, even though my brain knows that this is a short lived side effect of a higher dose of medication. I can sit here logically and know that by the end of the week I will be fine. There is nothing deeper going on here. I have to trust myself. I don’t have to eat if I’m not hungry and if I don’t want to eat for a reason, it’s not going to spiral out of control into anything else.

My mind has been stuck in a couple of traumatic time periods lately, and I think that’s why it’s slightly scary to feel like I am physically reacting to that time period.

The first is being 4-5, starting to find my own personality and not being who my parents hoped I would be.

The second is college, when I didn’t want to be alone and I stayed in a relationship that wasn’t healthy for either of us. I liked her a lot but I wasn’t as serious about her as she was about me. I wanted to have fun and she was looking for a life partner. I was nowhere near ready for that. The narrative in my head has been telling me that I had a blast in college and really enjoyed myself. Until yesterday when I saw a picture of the soccer team at a local bar with our coach. I wasn’t there. I never went to that bar in college. I knew alcoholism was in my blood and I went years between drinks, even in college. But why didn’t I go to the bar that day? I might’ve been away from campus for my grandfather’s funeral, but I feel like that wasn’t the case. My ex didn’t like me associating with the soccer or lacrosse teams outside of games and practice because it took time away from her. They were at the bar to celebrate winning the conference championship game. Why didn’t I go? Why didn’t I fight harder to go if it was indeed because of her? Why don’t I remember all the things I missed because she made me stay with her? I wasn’t nice to her when we were together and I spent all these years after college tormenting myself for the way I treated her. What if that made me completely dismiss what was being done to me? How many other times in my life have I just dismissed what was happening to me and taking on the role of bad guy even though I was wronged too? Where does this come from and how do I heal it?

The last traumatic time period I am stuck in is one point in the Air Force when I felt abandoned by my leadership. I lost friends that year over it. One was my supervisor. She was so mean to me for no reason. She would say things like “I have no idea what’s wrong with you these days. Why are you acting so abrasive and harsh?” No one knew how much I wanted to die that year. No one knew how much OTC medication I was stockpiling, how much I was sleeping, how horrible my house looked because I couldn’t even get up off the couch on the weekends. I did not tell a soul how low I really was. I used to secretly hope I wouldn’t wake up one morning and the torment I was living with would just end. The reason this time period is back on my mind after ignoring it for years is because that particular unit is scheduled for deactivation next February. I feel deliriously joyful about that. Good riddance. It had been a special place for me years before, but there was harm done then too. But my last round at that place was just terrible. I can’t wait for it to be deactivated. Fuck that place. And fuck those people who decided to lash out at me. I am hoping I can get this time period out of my head first. I am not asking a bunch of questions about it because I don’t feel like dealing with it right now. I always want to take on too much trauma at once and it paralyzes me emotionally. I feel like working through earlier time periods first is better for me and less likely to take me to a dark place I don’t need to be in right now. This particular time period also falls into when I started therapy, so there’s extra pain from younger years mixed into all that too. It was just so much to deal with at once.

So much about my childhood makes me want to write a book on how not to raise your child. There’s so much damage you can do that makes the rest of their life miserable. They can’t learn how to trust if they can’t trust you. They won’t learn who they really are if you don’t accept what you see in them. They learn to accept gaslighting for the rest of their life and question their own sanity because they don’t trust who they are when you show them you don’t like who they really are.

Some days I feel like I will forever be fucked up and it’s not worth the time, energy, or money to keep going to therapy. And that’s not even including all the damage done by the military deployments themselves. When I turn and look back at how far I’ve come, it all feels worth it. But looking ahead makes me feel exhausted and drained. Like there is no end to the trauma I’ve dealt with. Some days it feels hopeless to even try but I know I can’t give up. I have to keep pushing forward, even when it’s daunting.

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