My Struggle: Dealing With Unmedicaded ADHD

My struggle with ADHD has been a long one, seeing signs as early as elementary school but the real beginning was when I was diagnosed with epilepsy at age three. I was placed on the ketogenic diet. The diet consisted of high fats and low carbs, meaning I couldn’t have sugary foods like candy and cereal until the age of eight when my epilepsy had officially been cured. Despite the joyful transition into sugary foods, the seizures had a lasting impact on my mental state. In elementary school, I was constantly blessed with Bs when I could have gotten As. I’d hear the same thing from all my teachers: “if you had just put in more effort.” little did I know I couldn’t put in more effort. My brain wouldn’t allow it. 

The symptoms got out of control when I arrived in seventh grade at Sky Vista Middle school in Colorado. I received my first F and my parents and I realized that this was something that was out of my control. I was taken to a doctor and diagnosed with ADHD in the winter of 2016 placed on the Vyvanse medication. This medication worked fairly well. I saw results immediately and I rejoiced as I pulled my grades out of the dirt. Those were the best grades I’d ever received, ending the year with a 3.6 GPA unweighted. That same year, however, my family was asked to move to Arizona for my dad’s work. I ended the school year and we moved.

Then it all came crashing down.

In 2018 my family moved to Gilbert AZ and I was enrolled in Greenfield Jr. High. due to the fact that they had no idea of the classes I had taken the previous year, I was placed in all on-level classes, realizing that too late I was unable to change my schedule. I was miserable, I already knew the entire curriculum for all my classes, resulting in me not feeling the need to try in any of them. With jr. high being the emotional hunger games it is, the majority of people were also awfully unkind to me and the majority of the few friends I did have left to Gilbert High at the end of the year. The medication that I had been taking daily turned me into a sociopath that same year. I felt no remorse, I hated my life, and I spent the year angry at everything in life, making it my goal to crush everybody in my family emotionally any time they did something I didn’t appreciate. My medication had made me make the world my enemy. I came to this realization after a fight with my parents. My mother had told me, “you are not the same happy Sam I once knew.”

Realizing this was the case I stayed off the medication at the beginning of my freshman year at Highland High school. The fresh start allowed me to make new friends far easier and the lack of medication meant that I could express myself far more. I came to love the world and as I gained my confidence, people gained confidence in me. 

I had tried other medications. One gave me suicidal thoughts in the first week,  another made me emotionally unstable the first two days, the third did nothing. Eventually, I just gave up. 

I went into my freshman year with a full determination that I would not let this developmental disorder control me. As soon as my grades took a dip my parents urged me to keep fighting for a medication that worked. I refused.

My story isn’t some amazing success story, I ended the year with the Cs and Bs I’ve grown accustomed to having. But I keep trying and that’s what matters.

 

In my time I’ve learned that there are many misconceptions about ADHD, so I’ll lay some groundwork.

Adhd isn’t just having a hard time focusing. Adhd isn’t even really an attention disorder although attention is part of it. Adhd is a developmental disorder that influences almost all regions of the brain. With ADHD comes inattentiveness it’s true, but it also comes with a number of other challenges. Loss of memory, fidgeting, emotional dysregulation, lack of executive function, to name a few. Emotional dysregulation tends to lead to oppositional defiant disorder or ODD.

Adhd is very real.

I see things online all the time about how ADHD is fake or induced by technology.

It’s not. Although technology can make symptoms far worse it is not necessarily the cause

The coronavirus pandemic threw off everybody’s schedules. I now had to fight to stay in control. I found multiple online channels and forums that added many strategies to my collection. I’ve made multiple planners, I use timers to manage well…my time. I have multiple friends and family members who are willing to help me and I always go for a run in the morning and a swim in the afternoon to keep my levels of serotonin and dopamine in check. I pray and read my scriptures daily. All things to help me with one mental disorder. 

My struggles in school have led me to search for other ways to make money. I’ve looked into finances and investing, applied for jobs, and even started a small business doing odd jobs around the neighborhood. I’m a firm believer that more money equals more freedom and I need all the freedom I can get.

I have ADHD. I’ve grown to love it. Despite its challenges, my ADHD fuels my personality. It makes me more spontaneous and creative, More energetic, more forgiving. If I’m not perfect, why should anyone else be? My religion makes me more peaceful with myself, my situation, and others. I’ve come this far, why not farther? I have ADHD. It’ll be with me for life. I’ll find a way to live with it.