More important, I worried that the drug treatment for ADD might end up being a minus rather than a plus overall.
Drugs that affect the mind can work miracles. But their miracles can also carry a high price tag. When a spirited but unpredictable individual becomes predictable and passionless, has a real improvement been achieved? Some would argue that predictability is not worth the surrender of a person's essential spark, their aliveness.
And who really benefits most from the drugs? The person with ADD? Or those around him or her?
I have a friend, a nurse, who has ADD. My friend, B, has tried the drugs. She found that they turned her into a zombie, so she quit taking them. B explained that we all have something we have to deal with, whether it's a bad temper, or overeating or laziness. We can let these things run wild and ruin our lives or we can do something about them. Maybe drugs will work for some people. But if they don't work or if the side effects are unaccepable, you do what people have always done: you find ways to cope. You figure out tricks that work for you, and you apply self-discipline to keep your natural tendencies from getting out of control.
So M called me yesterday, having taken her first dose of Adderall. She had been terrified that maybe the diagnosis was wrong and the drug (an amphetemine) would act directly as a stimulant on her system, rather exert the kind paradoxical calming effect it promises people with ADD. When I answered the phone M said, "I think I'm high" and giggled delightedly.
She actually sounded normal to me, except for a faint sense of unusual "lightness" about her. She described the feeling as being "more present" in the moment. And to me--someone only a few months into Life 2.0, someone whose mantra is "live in the moment, seize the now"--this declaration of hers was indeed a good sign. If she could be here in the moment, fully and patiently, rather than buzzing around worrying, and sampling, and processing madly, then maybe this could be a turning point for her.
It's way too soon to tell, of course. The drug's effects are cumulative. Which means its side effects are liable to add up as well. The good news is that she treasures her ability to feel things and to experience life intensely, so she is not likely to give up those essential aspects of herself in exchange for the centeredness a drug like this offers...not without a fight anyway. And she has a wonderful husband who will be watching to makes sure the M that he loves never fades too far from sight.
So I will keep you posted as the experiment progresses.
My idea of what an ADD sufferer's brainwaves look like on an EEG: