How going on medication changed my life

In late November of 2018 I went to see a psychologist.

Why?

I felt like I was starting to suffer from seasonal depression (again).

I’d become more irritable and was having mood swings…

I was drinking every day as soon as I got home from work (around 5 pm)…

And I felt despondent.

The same thing had happened the previous winter (2017) when Laura and I were in New York…

And that winter it was a lot worse…

It went on for months and months that year…

So when I started showing the same symptoms in 2018…

I wanted to be proactive and address them right away.

So I went to see a psychologist named Dr. Garcia…

And what happened next changed my life.

Pretty early on…

Dr. Garcia asked me if I’d ever been diagnosed with A.D.D.

I told him that I had…

And that I’d taken medication for it when I was a sophomore in High School – for a year…

Then I’d gone back on medication in my late twenties – that time for about three years.

Dr. Garcia asked me why I’d stopped…

Which is a pretty logical question.

I told him that in high school I’d stopped because I didn’t like the way the medication made me feel…

But during my late twenties…

I’d actually stopped because things seemed to be going so good in my life…

That I kind of forgot why I’d gone on the medication in the first place.

That alone was a bit of a startling realization…

And the next thing Dr. Garcia asked me was:

“Okay so the last time you were on A.D.D. medications, in your late twenties, did you suffer from seasonal depression like you do now?”

The answer was no…

Which was a bit startling as well.

Next Dr. Garcia asked me…

“What’s your activity level like in the summer? What does your typical day look like?”

I told Dr. Garcia that in the summer, when the days are long and warm…

I would get off work at 3 pm or 4 pm…

Then I’d go play 18 holes of golf…

Or go meet friends for dinner…

Or take my daughter for a long walk…

Or go swimming and BBQ outside.

“And what about during the winter?” he asked.

I had to admit that during the winter…

I’d get home from work around 5 pm and then not leave the house for the rest of the night. I’d also start drinking around then. Not necessarily getting wasted – but having a few cocktails or glasses of wine.

After this Dr. Garcia asked me a few more questions…

But before long he summarized things for me in a way that was completely unexpected, and that frankly blew my mind.

In effect, he said something like:

“Okay so you’ve been diagnosed with A.D.D. multiple times. The last time you were on medication you didn’t suffer from seasonal depression. And you say that everything in your life went really well.

Since you’ve been off your medication however, you have suffered from seasonal depression again. Plus, during the winter your activity level goes down dramatically.

Suddenly you’re just sitting around inside for several hours at night. For someone with A.D.D. this would make them pretty restless and bored. Probably even cause anxiety and irritability. It could also lead to drinking as a coping mechanism.

So honestly in my opinion, I don’t really think you have seasonal depression at all. I think you’ve just got A.D.D. and that most of your seasonal issues would go away if you were properly medicated.”

Maybe his diagnosis sounds obvious…

But honestly it was surprising…

Because I’d gone to see this guy about my perceived seasonal depression…

Yet now here we were talking about A.D.D.

What’s cool about Dr. Garcia though…

Is that even though he made this observation within our first few sessions…

He didn’t try to push medication on me.

In fact, because he’s a psychologist and not a psychiatrist…

He couldn’t have even written me a prescription if he’d wanted.

Instead…

Dr. Garcia asked me to test his hypothesis…

By agreeing to be more active in the evenings after work.

So instead of just staying at home every night after 5 pm…

I started forcing myself to go out to dinner with Laura and Eden…

Or we’d go see a movie or a concert together…

And guess what?

While it wasn’t perfect…

I noticed that I was much less depressed or irritable as I became more active.

It was eye-opening…

And the more I saw Dr. Garcia…

The more open I became to the idea of potentially taking medication for my A.D.D.

Why?

  1. The last time I’d been on medication it had gone really well.
  2. I realized that if my A.D.D. was responsible for my mood swings and seasonal depression, then addressing it in a more consistent manner would be beneficial.
  3. I was curious to see what kind of difference it would make in my life in general.

On the flip side though…

I was worried about any medication changing my personality…

Or having weird physical effects on me.

So I wrestled with the decision for a while…

But after a lot of consultation with Dr. Garcia…

I ultimately agreed to give medication a try.

So I went to a clinic in Las Vegas where I was re-tested for A.D.D. and my diagnosis was reaffirmed…

And they put me on 20 mg of Adderall a day.

For reference…

The maximum amount of Adderall people are supposed to be on per day is like 120 mg…

So this was a pretty low amount, all things considered…

But even so…

I made a vow to myself that I would stick with the prescription for at least one week…

Because I knew that during the first day or two…

I was probably going to feel a little cracked out or “weird.”

And that’s exactly what happened…

The first day I felt like I was on coke…

And for the first several days…

I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling wide awake, and then have trouble falling asleep.

Not good right?

I decided to just cut my afternoon dosage in half…

So I was taking 10 mg in the morning but just 5 mg in the afternoon…

And between a lower dosage and the fact that my body was getting adjusted to the medication…

I soon went from feeling cracked out…

To noticing some very positive benefits.

Let me share several of those benefits with you here:

Suddenly my social anxiety went from a “9” to a “3.” Before going on medication, if I was at a party or mixer or whatever, I would be stressed the entire time. Sweaty, anxious, irritable, you name it. To compensate for that, I would drink more than I wanted to. It was a coping mechanism.

What I realized is that most of this stress and anxiety was coming from all of the stimulation at these types of functions. You’d have changing lighting, music playing, a thousand conversations happening at once, people moving around constantly, etc. That’s a very hard environment to focus in. But once I was on Adderall it wasn’t nearly as distracting or stressful.

Going out to dinner became much more enjoyable. During dinners with people I didn’t know very well, I had this habit of always excusing myself to the restroom. The thing is though, I often didn’t actually have to “go.” Instead I went to the bathroom because I needed a minute to be alone and recharge. After going on Adderall this habit ended. I could actually be in a loud, crowded restaurant and still enjoy the meal and conversation.

Speaking of drinking – that subsided dramatically after I got on Adderall. As I’ve written about in previous emails, I still like to have a few cocktails from time-to-time. But now it’s really easy to stop after two or three drinks. I don’t keep drinking and get “f***ed up.” When I have drinks it’s because I’m enjoying them, not because I’m trying to compensate for a mentally stressed state.

Of course, the seasonal depression got dramatically better. It’s still not perfect, but it went from like an “8” to a “2.” During the winter I do still compensate by forcing myself to be more active in the evenings. But I’m also able to spend several nights in a row at home without feeling like I want to smash things against a wall.

My mood swings are gone too. Pretty much zero mood swings now. Which is a huge deal for me. My wife Laura has even talked about how happy it makes her. She was very hesitant about me going back on medication, but she says it’s been a night and day difference. If I wanted to stop taking my Adderall now, she’d be having NONE of it lol.

I stopped caring about gambling at all. I never had a gambling problem, but if I was out at a casino with friends it would be easy for me to start playing blackjack and then want to continue gambling until the early hours of the morning. Something about all of the stimulation – rapid hits of dopamine, all of that stuff.

I’ve gambled maybe 10 times since being on Adderall and never for more than an hour. And even when I’m doing it, I’m honestly not even into it. I feel very even keel, and I’m more so just gambling because it’s a social situation and the people I’m with want to do it.

While it might sound counterintuitive, since being on Adderall I’ve found it easier to go to bed early and wake up early. This probably ties back to the fact that I’m not partying as much, not overdrinking as much, etc. It’s been great.

And finally, there’s the work aspect. I’m much more productive with my workdays. It’s not like I take an Adderall and then just blast through stuff for ten hours straight. That might happen the first time or two you take a medication like this, but once your body gets used to it, it’s much subtler. Still though, I find it much easier to focus on one single task at a time and get stuff done.


Honestly there are probably several other benefits that I’m not thinking of right now…

But the point is that for me personally…

Going back on medication has changed my life.

And I know this is kind of a weird email…

But the reason I wanted to write it…

Is because there can be a lot of stigma around medication in general…

And especially stuff like Adderall and A.D.D.

I get it, because I felt the same way for a long time…

Yet between the reduction in stress, the reduction in drinking, and a reduction in several other vices…

There is just zero chance you could convince me that the net positives of being medicated for my A.D.D. don’t dramatically outweigh the negatives.

Frankly there aren’t really many negatives anyways…

The only one I can think of is a potential tolerance issue…

But I intentionally vary my dosages each day…

So that I’m taking between 5 mg and 20 mg…

And that solves the tolerance issue right there.

Okay that’s it for today.

Hopefully you found this email to be helpful or eye-opening.

– SPG

P.S. This post originally came from an email I sent to my private list. If you want to see more stuff like this from me, you can apply to join my list using this link.

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