Good news!

I just had a call from my psychiatrist.

Monday, I drive down to her office to pick up the beginning prescription of a six week trial on dexamfetamine. This is great news, as dexamphetamine (same drug, US spelling) is the dominant component (75%) of Adderall XR.

In six weeks, I will be assessed. It’s taken nine years to get to this point, through all kinds of mental hell, but progress is happening. I am filled with hope.

Am I still needed?

Yesterday’s life drawing class gave me pause for thought: am I still needed? I have been teaching it weekly for nearly three years (about 140 classes, give or take) and in that time I’ve had students come and go, some attending the majority of that number of sessions. I am truly grateful for the opportunity and flattered that so many love my classes, but as we move forward I wonder if I am adding anything to the skillset of the artists beyond practice now.

I’ll explain. Most of those who attend my classes have done so many times over the years, if not regularly for more than a year or two. In this time I have covered numerous lesson plans, techniques, materials, and more. I’ve watched my group increase in confidence and skill. There is less need to comment on each individual’s work with constructive criticism/direction. Each is truly developing his own style. Each has heard me discuss similar topics for years now. I am beginning to wonder if I am needed…

What is needed is regular practice. The class environment – and having a teacher – is the weekly reminder for my artists to practice and to improve, but is this not something they can do on their own? Am I really adding to their development or is my class merely another reminder on a to-do list?

Perhaps I’m thinking about this too deeply and it is far simpler than my critical thinking regarding my teaching. Maybe people just enjoy coming to class, plain and simple. Maybe they enjoy the environment and my way of interacting with each of them. I can’t say. What I can tell you is that my students are far better life drawing artists than when I met them, and I know I have had something to do with that. I still enjoy what I do, and perhaps it’s enough that they enjoy it too. Might be time to poll them soon… Or push them harder. Food for thought.

Update from the appointment

This morning is a little bit of a blur, so thank goodness my best friend Pete acts as my auxiliary brain now and again. The psychiatrist saw me for about a half an hour and we went over my situation again. She remembered me from three years ago, which was nice. I told her that the medicine I’m on for ADHD is ineffective. I told her that I’m off Citalopram. I showed her my highlighted notes and again reminded her (as I do anyone who will listen) that I don’t need to treat the depression as long as I’m on the right medicine for my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The logic is this (and it does play out this way): If I can focus and complete things rationally and well, the depression all but disappears. Think about it- I complete tasks, I feel good. It really is that simple.

I explained to her that I’m back to life feeling like a spinning roulette wheel and every once in awhile the ball picks a slot and I finish something properly with focus. I experience life a little differently to you, most likely. My thoughts are like constantly firing buckshot. My experience of most situations is like looking at a flip book. Fireworks. Blinking Christmas lights. You know when your camera tries to put a little square over the recognised face of an individual in frame? Imagine it appearing over and over in random places never quite finding something to focus on. Now set that to a techno beat. Yeah.

The weird thing is, Adderall XR is amphetamine based. This is why doctors are hesitant to prescribe it here, and many are in fact unable to by regulations. Mine is one of those, so she is contacting a specialist branch up in Bristol to look at my case and – if possible – arrange a prescription co-operatively with them. If not, she will get me an appointment with them. I’ll happily travel two hours to get this resolved, not a problem.

If that route fails, and I am left without Adderall XR or any generic cocktail of the active ingredients, I have researched buying drugs from online sources. Sounds like the stuff in your spam email, I know, and it may have risks, but I am in need. I want to perform normally in my work. I want to make money and be independent. I have done this before and know very well what I am capable of. A few of you reading this have known me through the unmedicated to medicated times ten years or so ago… I don’t think I’m crazy to want that back. I don’t want to be angry, frustrated, and in constant brain chaos anymore. I’m 42. I’m still young enough to have a better life. I don’t want to wait to die like my mother. I want to squeeze every last drop of experience out of my time on this planet. Right now, that means getting a more functional brain.

Drugs are not always the answer, and you’d be right to tell me to exercise, take supplements, and all that. I have, I do. Not all brain chemistry can be sorted that way. I know what works for me. Let’s hope the folks in Bristol see it too.

Here we go again

I have an appointment with a psychiatrist (first one in three years) this morning and I’m trying my best to be hopeful. I have spent (off and on) the last nine years trying to get the same, successful medical treatment for my ADHD as I had in the US. The NHS is only just catching up with the use of certain drugs and that’s fine [I know that the US is often accused of throwing prescription drugs at problems], but in the meantime I have been through the mental wringer. If this doesn’t work out today I am prepared to look into buying medicine from abroad.

I love the NHS and the mental and physical healthcare I receive generally, but ADHD is still very difficult to be treated for as an adult here. I’m so very tired of having been well in the US for a couple of years and then moving abroad only to fight for the same treatment. I don’t want to live half a life. I know what it’s like to be productive and happy. I just want to be listened to and function well again. I don’t want the wrong medicines anymore; I’ve had those in my brain for years.

I’m going to the appointment, as I go to all my mental health appointments, armed with my “folder of crazy”. That’s what I call the folder that contains all my US psychiatrist and therapist records, my printed emails with various mental health professionals here documenting years of trying to get listened to and treated, my own research with highlighted passages and drug terminology to bridge the US-UK divide, and my old pill bottles from the US (which still contain a few nine year old pills like they’re holy relics). I’ll have a bottle of water, a box of tissues, and my best friend.

Doing battle for my brain is getting harder every year. I hope today’s appointment changes this.