Living with ADHD or the changes that medication brings – one person’s view

Rory Bremner’s account of living with ADHD as an adult provided a fascinating impact into this poorly understood condition and the emotional impact is has on the individual and those around them.
One of our youngest patient bloggers wrote about the impact of ADHD v the impact of medication and the issues seem just as pertinent today.

Here is his story:

“I’m 16 years old and was diagnosed with ADHD at age 13, although before the diagnosis myself my family and my teachers were pretty sure I had it. ADHD makes up some of my personality traits such as bad organisation, being energetic and having quite a short temper. At times it can affect my behaviour in negative ways, for example I regularly used to lose my temper with teachers. It also makes me easily distracted, fidgety and talkative. But on occasions when I am attempting to concentrate on something I feel passionately about it will give me determination to carry on with this task, and perhaps boost my creativity. It gives me a natural buzz and general happiness.

But because most of the school curriculum did not interest me, the positive side rarely appeared at school, and after countless exclusions I was referred by the educational psychologist to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). It was here I was diagnosed and was told I had a textbook case of ADHD. After this reasons for my behaviour were discussed, family issues and then future counselling at CAMHS and medication.
I was not very happy with idea of being put on medication, but I knew that if I did not begin to behave and get my work done I would soon be leaving school. I also wanted to end the stress that I had put my mum through, constantly called into the school about my behaviour. So after a few meetings I decided that I did want to begin taking medication.

Some side effects were explained but I was told the chances of them happening to me were pretty small. So I began taking my medication (methylphenidate). At school it was a huge success, I was much calmer and found it easier to concentrate. But my mates said I had changed. This was one of the strongest negatives for me as it took away some of my everyday personality.

I was known as being energetic and had begun to spend my whole time tired and quiet. Although I had been working well in lessons, by the afternoon I was too tired to do any work because the medication gave me trouble sleeping. It also made me lose my appetite. At the time I was one of the smallest boys in my year so this was definitely not good.

This was the first time in my life I had felt properly lonely. All these side effects had begun to make me resent my medication, but I still felt that if I didn’t take it my behaviour at school would get even worse. After roughly 8 months my height was measured. The results really upset me, I had not grown and had lost weight. I made the decision to stop taking medication.

Although at first I was daunted at the prospect of facing school without my medication, it was
actually a lot easier. I began to strike up old friendships and I had the support of a mentor. I regained my confidence and energy. I believe that the support of my mum and discovering my passion for creating music helped me channel my energy and allowed me to enter school with a clearer head. Although I wasn’t an angel for the last two years and was in trouble now and then, it was nowhere near as bad as before and I was happier. I have now left school with six GCSEs when I believed that I would never finish school. And I have just started a highly respected course in music technology at college.

I don’t regret taking medication, it helped in the short term, but I know that I can manage better without it”

This blogger has avoided medication completed a degree in music and now works in adolescent care alongside his own creative music career. Exercise and meditation have helped him control the negatives of ADHD while keeping his creativity intact.

Published on: April 27, 2017