ADHD Medication Changed My Life

I am not a doctor.  I am not pretending to be one.  However, my severe ADHD and tremendous personal success on medication make me a “self-proclaimed” expert.  Very rarely do kids say they do not like meds.  What they often say is, “I don’t like how this makes me feel.”  Bingo.

This means it is probably working as it should make you feel different.  Most medication is time release.  One of the major side effects is that it messes with the appetite.  For the past 15 years I have taken 54 milligrams of Concerta, which is the highest dose you can take (well I guess you can take more but I don’t recommend it).

I eat a huge breakfast every day.  Breakfast is the key to my day, because like I just mentioned, the medication takes away my appetite.  Then take my pill.  It lasts 3-3.5 hours before beginning to wear off.  Yes 3-3.5 hours! Many medical experts will tell you it lasts all day.  I am not saying they are wrong.  I am saying this is not the case for me.

So, let’s say I take my medication at 8:30am.  Around noon it begins to wear off.  I get edgy, moody, easily annoyed, and most importantly, really hungry.  Hunger is the critical piece to this.  I must eat lunch during this “window.”  Whether I eat or not, the med kicks back in (time release) after about 45-50 minutes and the window closes.  Now I am not hungry anymore.  For many kids in school their “window” does not match lunchtime.  Think about how hard this is for a young person.  20 minutes ago she is in Social Studies starving.  Finally she gets to lunch.  Unfortunately, the window closes and the med kicks back in.  Now the student is not hungry anymore but has not eaten!  Almost always she says, “I don’t like how it makes me feel.”  Try to figure out where the “window” is for certain kids.  Does it match lunch or snack?  Remember, the timing of medication makes a huge difference.  Try to match their strongest dose times to big tests or long periods of seat time.

“Snack time” is common in elementary classes.  Again this is great if snack time matches that window.  I recommend allowing kids to eat when they are hungry.  The alternative is to teach them about their “window.”  Good luck with a bunch of seven year olds.  It is much easier to encourage eating when hungry.  I always have a big bag apples, bananas, and carrots on the shelf in my room.

I first starting taking my medication at the age of 25.  It took me almost a full year to figure out the correct brand, dose, and timing.  I experimented with multiple doses before settling on what I take today.

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