I hate taking Ritalin.
My psychiatrist thought it would be a good fit for me because I could just take it while at work to concentrate, but could avoid using it the rest of the time.
As the pharmacy was out of 10 mg tablets, they gave me 5 mg tablets, and I started by experimenting with those—starting at 5 mg and working my way up to 15 mg, before realizing I’d reached my edge.
Even at 5 mg the first thing I noticed is that my body felt remarkably like it used to feel whenever I did hallucinogenic drugs. The last time I did magic mushrooms, I was 24 and with my friend Ariel. Ariel had never done magic mushrooms before and was eager to try them out. She also has a fatal peanut allergy. Shortly after we drank the mushroom tea, she started recognizing the early-symptoms of an allergic reaction. Being a few blocks from the hospital—but high on drugs—we decided to walk to the emergency department. (Good thinking, right?) It was lucky we did this, because after a couple of blocks she realized she was okay after all—it wasn’t anaphylactic shock, it was just how the drugs felt hitting her system.
So the first thing I noticed when I took Ritalin was that it felt like the tastebuds on the centre of my tongue were shrinking and I got incredibly thirsty, as if my body just wanted to purge my system. I noticed a kind of tingling in my arms and legs, including a brief involuntary muscle spasm in my foot. This was followed by a feeling of sort of breathless disconnection with my body—like part of me was floating apart from the rest of my body. It’s hard to describe. It’s like you’re still there but somehow you’re inhabiting your physical body differently. A tightness, like anxiety, settled on my chest. Something subtle happened to my eyes too—like they get more watery and I felt like I needed to blink more, or my vision altered slightly. Anyway, the first night after I tried Ritalin, I had a trouble getting to sleep.
The second night, which I described last time I wrote, I had a horrible anxiety-ridden nightmare. But I didn’t realize at the time that it was related to the Ritalin. Nor did it occur to me at the time that my crying in boss’s office—which was highly out of character—was also related to the drug.
Nor did it occur to me that all the time I spent over the next few days telling myself, over and over again that, “I suck. I suck. I suck. I should just quit my job now, I’m never going to be good at it. I suck.” Was linked to the drug.
Except that, after a week off, in which I didn’t take the drug and I felt great, I went back to work this week, took 10 g Ritalin, and a few hours later, ended up crying in the bathroom telling myself that I was a useless and I that I sucked. And that I should just quit. Or better yet, kill myself. At which point, some rational part of my brain had the decency to point out that I don’t normally cry in bathrooms while at work (or anywhere for that matter), and while I might not be good at everything there are things I am really good at, and that what I wasn’t feeling wasn’t normal. In fact, I realized, that what I was feeling was downright abnormal—at least for me.
So, while I know a lot of people do really well with Ritalin, clearly I’m not one of them. It didn’t seem to do anything noticeable to improve my focus but it did make me feel like I didn’t deserve to work or even live. And obviously I can’t live like that.