‘Supermom’ on Adderall Is Afraid to Stop

The mornings are the absolute worst. It’s like my entire body is cemented to the bed. The sleep I get, when I finally do collapse and catch a few hours, is light and unsatisfying—I’m never rested. They say that the Adderall messes with your sleep cycles; well let me tell you, an inability to fall asleep and stay asleep is a mixed blessing. Sure I can get more done at night once the kids are in bed, but I pay for it every morning.

If I drink enough coffee and take a pill first thing in the morning, I’m not really hungry for breakfast. I try hard to be a good role model for the kids, so I choke down a little something—maybe some toast if we have bread in the house. Keeping everything stocked is hard when you’re on the go all the time, and evenings are nuts with the sports games and practices for both Gavin and Tina—I’m always running from one thing to the next, so we grab dinner out most nights. That makes it hard to focus on what to keep in the house. I can’t tell you how many times someone starts the day by yelling at me that we’ve run out of cereal, milk, frozen waffles … it’s always something.

By the time the kids are on the bus, and the Adderall kicks in, I feel slightly less like death warmed over and I can get dressed and hit the road. My best hours are those first few hours at work—and everyone knows it. I think there must be a sign on my forehead that says “crankiest after 1:00 pm, please make all requests in the morning.” I can’t help it; the good mood only seems to last that long no matter what I do. I feel like I can handle whatever comes my way, so I keep saying yes to whatever anyone asks of me … and then I crash. I read all the side-effect warnings and I know that I don’t have any really dangerous mood swings, but the anxiety and restlessness are real problems. I snap at people, and pray for 5 o’clock to roll around so I can get out of there. The drive home is the only time I get to be alone for the rest of the day, and I can’t tell you how many times I end up just weeping from rage, exhaustion and frustration. I’m so worked up all the time I don’t even know what I’m upset about—I’m just revved up and wiped out, 24/7.

I’ll confess: drinking helps. A glass or two of wine with dinner really takes the edge off the restless, jittery feeling, but it is so tempting to overdo that, too. If I don’t have to drive the kids anywhere, I can just sink into the couch and watch TV. I guess I drink too much on those nights, but they seem to happen so rarely that I’m just not going to worry about it.

Asking for Help

When I finally told my mom about what I’d been doing, she just said, “Oh, we all used to take that stuff. You could buy it in the drugstore; it was called Dexatrim. It was supposed to be for losing weight, but we all knew what it was: speed. And we’d take it when we needed a little help.” Great—I finally work up the courage to speak the truth and what do I get? Denial. The truth is I was looking for some help because I’m really scared to stop. I know I can’t stay on this roller coaster forever, and the bad moods and anxiety that I just can’t shake come on stronger and earlier every day. I wanted my mom to say, “I’ll help you, honey. I’ll take the kids for a while if you need to go somewhere …” but she didn’t. I don’t know if I’ll be strong enough to ask her more directly next time it comes up. If it comes up.

If I were taking an illegal drug, she wouldn’t have played it off like everyone’s doing it, like it’s all fine. She would have freaked out and insisted I get help. But because I look OK on the outside and I function at work and I get the kids to every place they need to go, everyone thinks I’m fine. I’m not fine. I’m a mess and I’m scared and I need help. I know I can’t just stop taking this stuff; if the way I feel every morning is any indication, I’ll be really screwed up for a while until I even out. But I also know that I can’t keep going like this. My chest hurts pretty badly sometimes, and not sleeping unless I drink myself into oblivion is just not working. Something’s going to break and I’m afraid it will be me.

I know the other moms think I’m a “supermom.” I’m single, I have a good job and my kids are stars on the soccer field and in the classroom. But what they don’t know is that I’m one step away from falling apart. Adderall is the glue that is holding me together, but it’s also the looming threat that haunts me day and night. I’d give anything to be a little less successful, a little less “super” and a lot less frantic.

There is still hope.

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