A couple years ago, I wrote a semi-regular feature here on the site called The Secret Origin of Lincoln Crisler. I talked about memorable comic books, my wicked stepfather, my brushes with all sorts of religions, and some of the novels and series’ that were important to me during my formative years. It was fun to write, and it’s all still there, at the handy link I provided. I most likely could have written that column for a lot longer than I did, but it petered out. Alot of things I do…do.
Which is actually an unintended but rather appropriate segue, since one of the things I never discussed, and am discussing today, is the reason for said petering…or puttering. Or, to put it more elegantly, my DiVinci Syndrome. Otherwise known as Attention Deficit Disorder. I was diagnosed with it when I was between seven and nine, and prescribed Ritalin–around 50mg/day, by the time I was 14.
Humans, I was doped the fuck up. The Ritalin took all the energy out of me, which probably wasn’t a bad thing, since I was poor, lived in the ‘hood and didn’t have any friends to play with anyway. I barely ate most of the time, and since I wasn’t genetically wired for large size anyway, I was a scrawny sonofabitch–I mean, I didn’t break 5ft tall or 100lbs in weight until my freshman year of high school. Around that same time–freshman year, at the age of 14–I flushed what was left of my pills down the crapper and never looked back.
That’s not a happy ending, though. I had all sorts of night terrors and depressing thoughts for six months after; what I’m sure were withdrawal symptoms from quitting such a large dose of Ritalin cold-turkey. I slept or read through the classes I was good at (most of them) and still aced the exams, and slept or read through the ones I wasn’t good at (math, for the most part) and didn’t ace them. I didn’t have a replacement for the drugs until I got to Army Bootcamp at eighteen. I simply floundered. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the military, and I say that without any hyperbole whatsoever.
I threw the pills away in 1996.Skip forward to 2014: I’m 32, married with kids. My son began exhibiting some of the same signs as me, and we started getting him help. My missus and I were both pretty resistant to putting him on medication, and we could afford to be that way–we have an intellectual edge on the folks I lived with at the time (my mom and the unwashed druggies who came by all the time), and we have the military health care system. But eventually, we put him on medication, because we figured it would help him. And it has.
I was seriously loath to do it, because I remember hating how the drugs made me feel, and I certainly remembered how coming off them felt. But they have better stuff twenty years down the road from when I was diagnosed, and as a MENSA candidate and Psychology graduate, my wife and I were equipped to make better decisions than simply dosing the kid to the gills. And damned if seeing better medication, handled a better way, didn’t make me wonder at the possibilities that might be in store for me.
Most people who have a window into my life probably think I have my shit together: I’m a career noncommissioned officer, a homeowner and an author/editor with eight years in the biz under my belt. I’ve been chipping away at a business degree on and off, and I’ve had four books with my name on the cover come out in the last twelve months. And I’m not down on myself, don’t get me wrong. I’ve always prided myself on being self-aware. But I know that I’m only giving 80-90% of what I can, and I’m thinking the medication will take me the rest of the way.
I have to admit, I’m a little scared. The most common medications are stimulants. What complications could that present, given that I still work out regularly–have to, because I’m a Soldier. Could it put more strain on me, now that I’m in my thirties instead of not even in my teens? But at the same time, I’m excited about the possibilities. Could a couple pills a day make it even easier for me to breeze through my work? Help me use my time more efficiently? Allow me to better harness my brainpower? Maybe I’ll even be able to write first draft novels in three months straight, like I should be able to. That would be killer.
I’ll know more in a few weeks. But the medicated future seems a lot brighter than my medicated past was.