Ep 6 - 10_10_19, 11.28 AM
5:40PM Nov 12, 2019
Lee Skallerup Bessette
Hey everyone, welcome to what is our sixth episode of all the things ADHD a podcast where Aimee Morrison and i Lee Skallerup Bessette discuss what it is like to be two Gen X women, parents, professionals, academics, who got a late in life diagnosis of having ADHD. So in today's episode, we're going to pick up where we left off last episode, where we're going to start a discussion around drugs, the medications we take, and how they impact us, and that they work and that they are effective and how they are effective for us and what that feels like. We'll also talk a little bit about different drugs, and what impact and effect that they have on us. So it's going to be like you're being dropped into the middle of a conversation, which I actually kind of like as a as an effect. But we're, like I said, pick up where we left off, where I'm going to talk a little bit about my writing process at the moment and then Again, how do we learn to function with the meds when all we've ever known in our lives is the struggle of being undiagnosed. So with that, I'm going to pass it back over to myself in the past a year ago, and let's get this conversation started.
But that, but then there's the challenge, because I'm like, I'm currently editing many, like my own writing. Yeah. And I'm at the point where it's like, well, you know, maybe I want it to be better than just good enough now. Right? Right. Like, it needs to be better. It could be better than just good enough, not because somebody else is telling me that I'm not living up to my potential, but because it's like, this is something that really matters to me now.
Well, I think as we like, transition into talking about medication now, your potential has opened up. Yeah, right. Yeah, just something that I'm experiencing. And I'm hoping like, maybe we can do an episode on this. It's like what you do with all this new capacity that you gain from treatment.
right. Like, I'll just be like, Oh my god, I'm like twice the person who was work. And but you know what I'm going to be honest with you. I don't know how to be that person. I don't have healthy work habits. I don't know how to not be sort of self accommodating my deficits when I don't have them anymore, right. I don't know what it looks like to just not be under the thumb, like disorder all the time. Maybe let's bracket that now. So we really want to come back to that. But how do you do that? But I think we should talk about the drugs because we're trying to get banned from our like potholes. Like drugs, drugs, drugs. We're like, I like drugs. Yeah, I think it's a great now, I'm taking I'll tell you, if anybody wants to know. I'm taking 50 milligrams daily of vivance, which is a long acting amphetamine based stimulants and it has changed My life. Lee, would you like to tell us about your meds or not?
I'm I'm on Adderall.
I can't remember how much, cuz I don't care.
If we had scripted this as a joke it could be funnier. Yeah, no.
Yeah. No because and, you know, I I also I'm like I think I'm on? people I What are you on for you? I'm also on Wellbutrin for my depression and another thing for my depression that I don't remember what it is. I take a little pink pill. I take a big purple pill. Um,
I do take an anxiety pill at night. I take one of those too
Yeah. Then so and then. So it's the yeah and I'm just like I don't know I go to the What are you here to pick up I don't know, whatever pills like was prescribed. I just renewed it like totally should have I don't have any left in there.
You're not really manifesting the respectability politics necessary to secure a class 2 control. The language is different in the US. I know, let's talk about these drugs. So, uh, I had an incident at the pharmacy you're familiar with, because yes, it's all of my social media where I went to renew my pills when I had, and I had a refill on my prescription so that like it was I was allowed to have more pills, you know, and I went and I had was two days early, and I was so proud of myself because I have ADHD and I tend to only, you know, I redo my birth control pills when it's been like two weeks with the birth control pills, because I just haven't made it to the pharmacy. It's amazing. I don't have seven children at this point. But like, I was so proud of myself for having my shit together enough to actually get to the pharmacy before I ran into pills. And then what happened was like the pharmacist, basically drug shamed me, right. You still have two pills left. I was like, Uh huh. I was like, Well come back two days from now. And I was like, What? Right? And he was absolutely humiliated. And so again, not surprising to anyone. I did a bunch of research into this. In both the US and Canada, many of the ADHD treatments so like your concert is your dance your Ritalin or Adderall, not some of the other ones. So the ones that are amphetamine based or what's the other class methylphenidate? So you're methylphenidate are also controlled substances because they are drugs that people abuse right so, you know, they picture Breaking Bad, right? That's my that's our drugs. You know, it's not methamphetamine, it's dex trim some science. And so these are in like the same class now, basically, is opioid medications, right, is that they have been diverted into the black market, people abuse these drugs, there are street forms of these drugs and they're very hard to get right and that associated with that as well is a really heavy cultural stigma about taking them because people do abuse these drugs. Right. Have you had any experiences like this? I mean, I guess not because you have no idea what you're going to the pharmacy to get.
No I do. I'm so here in the states I'm in an HMO.
And I quite like my HMO and that's the kind of controlled health plan so you're everything is is contained
Yeah, in Well, it's not even in network for me. It's, it's, that's more of a PPO. So HMO is just everything is branded. So like, I go to the pharmacy at the same place, I go see my doctor, which I go see my you know, so like everything. So when I show up at the pharmacy, right? Yeah, I give them my HMO card. They know who I am. They pull up my file, boo, right? Um, which I actually I kind of like that and you don't have to worry so much about like finding doctors and specialist because it's all in network or not in the network, but it's all in like brand. Okay, um, so, you know, we there's the when the demos were started back in the 90s, there was a whole debate about them and like, how effective are they really and all that but like I've I really like mine. I've used When we first moved here, and in California and now I'm using it here, what I'm not gonna say their names, I'm not advertising for them. But anyways, so they have everything on file, they know who I am. And so I go to renew my prescription, and they need to get approval from my treatment doctor. I said, all right. Send it, can you send the approval? So when I when I put in to renew my prescription, they put in renewal permission, whatever it is with my treating doctor treatment, right? Well, what they didn't tell me though, is that my doctor had left the system.
So your doctor no longer exists?
Yeah, so my doctor no longer exists. So they keep sending out this request to no one
To no one.
And I keep going and saying Can I have my meds now? And they're like, no, sorry. We haven't gotten approval yet. And I'm like, starting a new job. Yeah, in three days!
And I'm moving Yeah. anxious. Yeah.
Yeah. And and I really want to make a good first impression here.
And then it turns out like the pharmacist again, because it's all sort of in network and they're like, Oh yeah, I heard from another patient that this person is left so you should call, get a new and then like a week later I got a letter and so everything but it, but it's also like so I remember I tweeted about this as well whereas like I'm standing at the counter, trying not to sound like a junkie looking for a hit.
I need my stuff.
I need my but at the same time, you're like, I need my stuff. And, and that's something I want to talk about though because I don't think anybody I don't think that talks about it a lot. Is that like, how much of a difference it really makes? Right like, and again, I said in the first episode, like I was I was sold and again skepticism parents want to protect my kid, you know, don't want to necessarily give them something that they don't necessarily have to you know, like This wasn't very well informed yet, but it was, you know, I was going with it. And I still had like a healthy dose of skepticism. But you know, I said that in our very first episode where I asked him, Well, how are you doing? And he just, he just says to me, Mom, I still feel so out of control anymore.
Yeah, right. That was that was the language that I used with my husband to it was sort of saying, like, it's not like everything is easier.
Everything is less hard.
Right. So I didn't feel like I was, I mean, I was really mad for a while. Like when I finally like, found a dose and the right medication that was working for me, and I was like, You know what, I don't need a two hour nap every afternoon of my sabbatical, right? Like, I'm just awake, like, right? And, and I'm not like, solving with frustration by suppertime. And I'm not putting my pajamas on at 6pm right because like my interest kind of manifest is sensory overwhelm and exhaustion and impatience and, and all of this and I thought, like, I get up in the morning now and I do all the things. I'm supposed to Do in the order. I'm supposed to do them and I don't have to take, you know, 20 minute Facebook breaks after every five minutes of doing something boring. Jamie like was just like, Oh, this is like, way less hard than I thought it was. And I was like, Oh my God, is this how everybody lives?
Amazing. I like the other day, you're not gonna believe this. The other day, I bought, like some paint at Home Depot. And they had a rebate, and I was like, Oh, hey, and they're like, but you have to mail it. And I was like, okay, right. So they give me this coupon. And like, you have to print out your receipt. And then you have to fill out this coupon. And then you have to put the coupon and the receipt in an envelope, address the envelope, find a stamp and mail it. And I did. Just like the kind of thing where I would just like, people would try to offer me loyalty cards. And I would just get like, irrationally angry because I thought I can't handle keeping a card with me like I can't bring this back. Every time I buy a bra like Yeah, what kind of person do you think I am? It's too much, right?
Yeah, but seven coffee cards that are half full
Well, I know right? I just like bringing handfuls of coffee cards. And they're like, and they laugh at me cuz you're like, Yeah, I know you have like, seven cards with one stamp. Yeah. Like the drugs, Lee. Oh my god, yeah, I'm living my life like I could just cry from relief to what I mean like I sit down and I can read an academic article from start to finish. Right? Yeah, easily, easily which I should be able to do I have a PhD, right this like my job, my job
you have one job
I have one job and it's it's to read all the things right I find it so hard and but it would be like really, really interested in stuff and I just couldn't get through it. And now I can really just feel like like I'm I feel like it got less hard. So I'm like totally with your son on this. I don't feel high. Right. I talk really fast but I always talked really fast and it I mean, I tried a couple of different medications in a couple of different doses before I sort of got to where I am right now. I mean, I want to share this because people also don't realize it. I'm trying this thing. What's it like? The way that ADHD medication works is there's two main types, right, there's the methylphenidate and then the amphetamine based and within those two classes of drugs, there are different formulations, short acting, slow release, and long release. And within all of those formulations, there are sort of the name brand medication and then there's like the ones that are out of patent protection have generic versions of those medication, right. And, and within all of those drugs, if you see that the complications are really growing here with all of those drugs, there are dosage ranges like so for advanced the dose range is between 10 and 70 milligrams, and the dosage has nothing to do with your weight, right or your gender. It has nothing to do with the quote unquote severity of your symptoms. It has to do with things that are happening inside your brain that are not currently quantifiable and testable, right? So nobody knows. It's like, oh, you're, you know, a white woman who's like of this age in this height, we're going to start you on concert. But that's not how it works, right? Nobody knows what's going to work. So you literally have to throw stuff at the wall until you see what sticks and doesn't make you worse. Yeah, right. So yeah, really hard. And it takes a long time.
Yeah. And it's, you know, I've had experience with that with depression and anxiety as well, because, you know, maybe this works. And maybe this isn't maybe this works, but it has the side effects. So you take this other thing to sort of counteract it and so it is. I got lucky, right. They got me on the first try.
Yeah, no, I know. And they got my son on the first try. And sometimes it does have to do he's, he's in a straight stimulant. And he's growing so fast that it's like, every time he puts on five pounds, we actually
Well, that's great. He's still eating because drugs zap your appetite right?
Well but so what's the funny thing about him is though is that the medication allows him to sit still long enough to actually eat. Oh, no dinner at my house. Now I was a swimmer swimmers are known for their appetites I've never had trouble eating and sitting down to eat I eat in about eight seconds flat. I have to remind my son to put the food in his mouth and to chew it. Right right. Okay, now Leo put it on your fork. Put on put it for very hard Okay, now put it in your mouth, put in your mouth, but sit down, put it in your mouth,
getting anxious just listen to this because I like wanting to is like a spec my hands. See, like I say to my daughters, like there is still on your plate. Yeah, it's been 40 minutes.
Yeah. And he's like, he's like, I'm done. And his sister eats like I do, which is fast. So she's like, I'm done. And he's like, I'm done too then. And I'm like, you've had a bite dude. You know, so yeah, so that was that was the trade off? Is he actually consistent long enough to eat some food and actually remember what it is that he's doing at the table, which is like, oh, food in front of me, I should probably put that in my mouth. Um, so, so yeah, but and I mean, isn't that another one too though is with women like I actually got that. It's like, oh, you're trying to lose weight?
Yeah, yeah. Right. So the amphetamine class of drugs has historically, historically, like through the 60s 70s and 80s been used as a weight loss aid. Yeah, diagnose diet pills, right. So if you think about, you know, in the 60s, people taking diet pills, they're basically taking ADHD medication. Right. And, and finance, which is the medication I'm on is it's the main line treatment for ADHD and also for binge eating disorder. So so like one of its sort of therapeutic and tested qualities is that it suppresses appetite. Right And so, yeah, so there's Another reason that people can stigmatize your use of these medications either you're like trying to get high, or you're like trying to get some kind of advantage in the workplace, like you're boosting your brain, you're you're a woman who's trying to lose weight. And all of those make it difficult to secure a prescription from your health care provider. But it also makes a lot of people resistant themselves to accepting medical treatment.
Try medical treatment. Right. I met a lot of Facebook groups because I also like I read all the things and I joined Oh, the Facebook groups and and what I see and it's kind of like parent groups and these adult ADHD groups is people saying like, Oh, my doctor thinks I should take meds but I hope it's not that bad. Like, is there a natural supplement I can take? Well, no. maybe if I cut gluten from my diet, like that's probably not going to help your neurological difference, right. I know are really wrapped up in in this kind of fear that I think has been unnecessarily built up around these medications. And you know, just the way like ADHD gets treated more like a moral problem than a medical problem. I think often, the pharmaceutical treatment for ADHD is considered less as a medicine. Right. And again, more as a cheat. Yeah, it's a cheating way to lose weight. Yeah, it's a cheating way to write an essay to 15 hours, you know, it's a cheating way to remember to pay your bills, right? It's cheat, cheat, cheat all the way down. And it makes it hard to get the drugs if you want them. And if someone prescribes you the drugs it also sometimes makes it hard for people to take them. Yeah. Well, I say take your drugs, everybody. Take them
well, and so my example of when I knew like it was the it was the weirdest thing I've ever experienced is that I watched my to do list order itself in my head. Oh, I was like, feeling like snapped into place. And I knew everything that I had to do and I knew we taught her how to do it. And I felt good about being able to do everything and I was like, What What just happened?
I kind of had that experience with the to do list as well, because like my thing is I don't write stuff down on my to do list because if I write it down, then I'll have to do it. Right. And I found myself, I'm just going to sit down and write it all up. And I did. And then I started doing them. And like I did them all day. And then I, you know, got my daughter from the bus stop and came home and instead of being like, could you stop dancing? Could you stop making so much noise? Like Mommy needs quiet time? I didn't. I like cooked, suffer, like from scratch and shit. Like, like what I did. I just kind of like, I still have some spoons left for the rest of my day. And I was like, Hey, kiddo, do you want to go to Starbucks with your brain? Like, yeah, let's go out and do something in the evening. I was like, What? If it's just a revelation to me?
Yeah. And it's really and I think I really like this that it is this challenge, though, is that we've never been like this before.
Right? Like so. So I always sort of say also about my depression, like, I do know what it's like not to be depressed.
right. You forget it. And you know, there's that long sort of like denial process of like, I'm not depressed and then you take the medication you're like, Oh, this is what, what it feels like I remember this feeling, right? Yeah. We've never known this feeling, right. We don't know what it's like to have our ADHD under control and treated. And it's an it's, it's, it's weird. So like for me, I now have a very long commute.
I don't like yeah, two hours this morning. I swear to God. I have to wait till I get to work to take my ADHD medicine. Because I don't like driving on my medication.
well, because I learned to drive. Right. Right, like, interesting. I learned to drive and I've always driven with ADHD and in fact I love driving because it's like, all everything is stimulated.
Oh, yeah. Cuz you like play all the music.
I play music
and you're noisy in your car.
Yep. And nobody All the music but I'm also watching the other drivers that I took active driving lessons. So I'm yeah. And so my it drives my husband crazy. He's like you look in the rearview mirror way too much. And I'm like, No, that's what I learned rearview mirror view shoulder shoulder 3360 degrees. Yeah, yeah, all of that stuff. And so it just engages so many different parts of my brain that are sort of all firing on all cylinders, that I actually feel really relaxed when I drive.
Is that interesting?
Yeah, that's like,
You're, you're pretty much you know, it's like me prepping all my classes at the last minute because it activates all that adrenaline response in my body. And so I can focus and so you get in a car, and you turn into such as sensory overwhelm of a thing that actually allows you to focus. Yeah, right. Yeah. So we all have these weird sort of like tricks that we prod our unmedicated selves into being able to function that we didn't even realize that we were doing to manage a deficit, right?
Yeah, exactly. And I just I I don't know how to drive on the medication. I Don't know how to drive not be you know, I an ADHD but I also think like, I'm actually pretty decent driver. Um, and so I also feel because I have the kind that like doesn't slow release so it gets out of your system fairly quickly. And I'm like, I just wasted two hours of productivity like
I'm hoarding this baby yeah, yeah,
yeah I did those two hours to actually work at the end of the day rather than Like, right now when I'm in the car
right so funny you know because I've had the UPS You know, I've had the opposite experience Lee I, I often do these long drives, like I live in Waterloo and my parents live in North Bay, which is, you know, a four and a half hour five hour drive depending on quote unquote tailwind. And I have done this drive a lot and I hate it and yeah, I mean, I can do it. I'm from up north like we calculate commutes and hours, right? Yeah, but since I've been medicated I've done the trip a couple of times by myself and I have done the entire drive without stopping With no radio and I felt so peaceful, just kind of like focusing on the road and driving this straight line all the way from Waterloo North Bay. No pee breaks. No coffee breaks. I don't need them. Yeah, right. Oh, you know, they they give Air Force pilots amphetamines right? To keep them sharp to fly long distances or or night missions, right? Like this is a new to them. That means in the military and I was like, Oh my god, I'm like a fighter pilot, but
to my parents.
Yeah. And I really like that kind of like because I would find it so incredibly boring to drive. Right. But now I'm just like, cool.
then I love my meds.
Yeah, I love them too. And, on that note, we'd love to hear your stories about why you have or have not chosen to take medication. We promise we won't come across as judges we just did right now about not judging. No, it's true. We have strongly held opinions we do. We have very that change. Yeah, the change. Um, and so we'd love to hear from you about that you can use hashtag all the things ADHD, on
ALL THE THINGS.
And you can also email us all the things that I'll be answering your emails, all the things at HDG gmail.com. And you can also visit and comment on our posts on the website, all the things ADHD. com if you notice the theme, we're very good at branding. That's one thing we've learned online lives is all about the branding.
Lee's going to answer all of your emails because that's her superpower and anything you want to know about. I'm happy to read the entire academic literature. So any topics you want us to address? We are totally happy to get on that.
Oh yeah. And if you want all of the references She'd be happy to we should actually start that. Oh my God, we need to work so we're excited you episode Zotero
I have a Zotero setup.
Oh, hey, we got to share that make that public group group for our Zotero we're going to get on that. So next time we're going to talk about why daily life can be so hard we talked about this thing about paying the bills, bills always being late. My house is a disaster. Why is it so hard? And also this idea of overwhelm? Yeah and just how overwhelming having ADHD can be but particularly a woman with ADHD in our current social moments. And I mean, I mean by current, I mean like, let's go like 20-30 years here, right?
Spoiler alert. It's because patriarchy
Yeah, well, that too.
But, but we can't get us Half an hour, patriarchy over and over and over again. We need to unpack that a little bit for perhaps our non humanities listeners.
There'll be a quiz.
On that note, there's not gonna be a quiz I hate quizzes on that note. Have a wonderful rest of your day and doing whatever you do. And we will see you next time on...see you? Hear you? listen to us? I don't know how you sign these things off. I don't know. All right. Well, anyways, until next time.
I'm Lee and she's Aimée and we're all the things ADHD.
ALL THE THINGS.