I Also Think Ritalin Rocks!!!

Heh heh… I had to giggle at the title of this post on Doula Mel’s page… it’s so very un-PC!! See, Mel has a guest blogger- D’s mom- who has just started her ADHD journey and who posts on Mel’s page occasionally to let us all know how she’s progressing. She’s taken the very brave step to not only medicate her boy- but to tell the blogosphere about it too! As I’ve mentioned Damien’s ADHD and the fact that he’s on meds, I thought I’d share my viewpoint with you as well.
Anyhoo, as Mel said, I mentioned at the Conference that one of the biggest hurdles in ADHDer and ADHDer parent’s lives is the general public’s VERY narrow view of ADHD and its treatment, as well as Ritalin’s* horrible reputation. I have said as much to other ADHDer parents and teachers on occasion, and I’m going to say it even more!
Something I’ve noticed a lot as an ADHDer parent; is that the criticism and “bad press” comes mostly from people who aren’t even parents, let alone people who are or have to deal with ADHDers! It never ceases to astound me that the general public claims to know more about Ritalin than all the doctors** I’ve spoken to! I try to be patient and not point out the obvious too harshly, but I also pay as much attention as I paid for their opinions and advice.
Like any other parent whose child is diagnosed as an ADHDer, I was hesitant to put Damien on any kind of medication- and at the time Ritalin was the only one I knew about. It took me 6 years to find a doctor who could treat Damien’s ADHD properly, and this is vital- ADHDer parents take note- if your doctor is not making any kind of difference in your and your ADHDers life, find another doctor! I was thinking the other day that maybe I should go through my files and make a list of the people we’ve seen since Damien was diagnosed… but I don’t have the energy! Let’s just say I’ve lost count. We’ve been with his current doctor for just over 4 years and we’ve been seeing our psychologist for 18 months. I like them both- and I’m very particular and very easily annoyed! I’ve had doctors and teachers talk down to me for years and I’ve had to try and learn to inform them rather than get annoyed. It took me forever to register that teachers telling me Damien had a problem were not their pointing a finger at me and my parenting, but their being concerned for my son!
So- back to the meds…
When I eventually found Damien’s current doctor, he diagnosed Damien again+ and immediately recommended medication. I frowned. I cringed. I sighed. But I was at the end of my tether and frankly I was out of tears, and out of options. What reassured (and surprised) me was that this doctor wanted to focus on Damien’s self esteem first, rather than on his behaviour and school performance. So I went home and filled the prescription and started medicating Damien the next day, and frankly, I was blown away! The change in Damien was phenomenal! Within less than a week his teachers were commenting on how much better he was coping at school! And this was just on a “start-up” dose. I say “start-up” because we went through a month long adjustment process to find the perfect dose for Damien using feedback from myself and three of his teachers that I could GRAPH. I was astounded, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since for not finding a better clued up doctor (in terms of ADHD++) before Damien was 12 years old!
Now, let me re-iterate. To put it plainly, I am not a doctor and I am not wearing blinkers or rose-tinted glasses. Medication is essentially a “quick fix” and ONLY helps the ADHDer get through the day and get through school. It can NOT cure ADHD as it is a lifelong condition and needs lifelong treatment. But the positive impact on an ADHDers self esteem and his general outlook and his relationships with others when his day to day life is easier- just can not be put into adequate words.
I could go on and on and on and on… but I’ll put up a few posts about it instead!
So, at the risk of rattling off a bunch of platitudes that you’ve probably heard before… Ritalin is NOT addictive and Ritalin is NOT cocaine based. And when you read the horror stories in the tabloids- remember that bad news sells. And just a quick warning for ADHDer parents starting their journey- if you Google Ritalin enough, you will find a lot of sites dedicated to the stuff, and you will find some scary ass sites too. And I’m not going to link or mention them because I don’t want to punt them at all… But rest assured that after more than 30 years on the market, Ritalin has been proven safe for most users- and I say most because like any other medication on the planet, for any illness, not everyone reacts to meds the same way.
And I WILL be posting more on this subject.

*let me stress- there are a lot of medications available for treating ADHD, and there are lots of types of AD/HD, however- I’m not going to go into detail here- I’ll use “Ritalin” to cover meds in general
**I’m using the word “doctor” to cover the entire spectrum of general practitioners/ neurologists/ psychologists/ speech therapists/ occupational therapists/ psychiatrists/ paediatricians and any combination of them all
+every single doctor will do this if you change doctors- just accept it and get on with it
++I’ll try and go into a little more detail about the diagnosis process in a later post… as a layperson obviously!

10 thoughts on “I Also Think Ritalin Rocks!!!

  1. s e e quine: and i do so love speaking to adults who are also dealing with AD/HD!

    niki hughes: thank you for sharing your story niki. i hope it can act as a warning to other non-ADHDers.

  2. My name is Nikki Hughes and i would like to show you my personal experience with Ritalin.

    I am 51 years old. Have been on Ritalin for 9 years now. I began taking it for depression after my marriage ended, and also in a misguided attempt to lose weight! I lost about 15 pounds at the beginning, had tons of energy, felt great…but the weight loss stopped within a few months.. I currently feel focused and motivated after I take it and am able to get a lot done. As well as the generic ritalin, I take 6 – 12 Tylenol 1 tablets a day. I know how bad this is, but can’t seem to stop for more than a few days. The last nine years seem to be a blur…it’s like I have lost those years….I hardly remember anything about them. I find this sad and frightening. I take what my doctor prescribed: three 10mg. tablets a day. I have tried many times to completely get off this drug but I now realize that I am truly addicted to it. If I stop taking it for more than one day I become extremely depressed and have very negative, hopeless thoughts and ideas.

    I have experienced some of these side effects-
    very irritable when it wears off; sometimes difficult to fall asleep, memory loss, hear music in my head that won’t stop.

    I hope this information will be useful to others,
    Niki Hughes

  3. ` You know, both my boyfriend and I have been told by ‘doctors’ that Ritalin is horrible and that we are guaranteed to be addicted to it.
    ` We aren’t, of course. And like gnat, we are also calmed down by caffeine (AND Ritalin).

  4. You’ve gotta do what’s right for Damien and screw everyone else and their opinions! He’s lucky to have such a determined momma!!

  5. e.c.: nicely put.

    sweetass: “symptoms” is fine doll, and i know you got your email aready! MWA

    gnat: creative genuises are often adhders- and yes i’m generalising!

  6. Would it surprise anyone that I was predominantly hyperactive-impulsive as a child and it has held onto to me into my adult years.

    As luck would have it my mother was a LSD teacher and I am told she would give me lots of Sodas that actually calmed me down as a child. It was as if the caffine had the reverse affect on me. To this day I still drink a metrix ass load of soft drinks, only diet. If I go without my triple shot expresso in the morning I am like a whirl wind that gets nothing down.

    The last legal stimulant on the planet is my focus mojo.


  7. hi angel, what is the classic symptoms of ADHD? i’ve been wondering if my eldest, 12yrs old, may be a ADHDer…sigh

  8. I agree – those who criticize most loudly (and thus cause so much completely unnecessary trouble and chaos) are all too often not parents, or are otherwise completely clueless!

    As a general rule, I believe medications are to be avoided if at all possible. Having said this – I hasten to add that there clearly ARE instances when medications are completely necessary. In these instances – it is NOT (as in almost never!) the medication that turns out to be the “bad guy”. Rather it is the improper dosing and administration of the drug, combined with an utter lack of watchful alertness. Anyone who is on a maintenance medication knows that each day the drug can “act” differently. It’s all dependent on too many factors: physiological, mental and emotional. No medication can be taken without someone (someone responsible) being constantly vigilant.

    OK. ‘M off my soapbox! (^_^)

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