As many of you probably know, getting adderall on college campuses is easy. You just buy it from students with prescriptions for five bucks a pill.
In my case, I got my own prescription from the school psychiatrist, at U. Chicago’s Student Counseling Center.
It took about 15 minutes for my psychiatrist to diagnose me with ADD. He asked four or five questions, and though I don’t remember them precisely, they went something like this:
Do you have trouble focusing when studying?
Do you feel restless?
Do you have trouble sticking to a task?
How are your grades?
Have you taken adderall before and did it help you study?
I guess my responses confirmed it, and now I “officially” have ADD. Really, I already knew I had ADD because I googled “ADD” and took one of the hundreds of “diagnose yourself for ADD tests” that popped up.
(Actually, and this is a topic for a later post, but let me mention it briefly: it’s pretty wrong to think you either “have” or “don’t have” ADD. Some people focus better in situations like reading books, some people focus better in situations like playing sports, some people focus better in situations like talking to others. Whatever “focus better” means. Even if there were a way to tell definitively if one had this thing called “ADD,” like some biological test, psychiatrists aren’t administering it. They ask the same questions you can find for yourself on the Internet. And if you want a prescription, you give the right response that will make the doctor give it to you.)
This is the conversation I actually want to have when talking about academia, ADD, and how adderall can help me:
“When I read a book, I’m forced to read very systematically from left to right, then down a line, then left to right, then down a line, and so forth. It’s hard for me to do this because my mind leaps spontaneously all over the page. I want to be able to do this reading, from left to right and down, left to right and down, continuously for a long time without getting hazed in the mind and needing to get up and walk around. To my psychiatrist, I want to say: Give me a pill that makes my brain do this. I want my mind to be structured when I read.”
But, I didn’t have this kind of conversation with my psychiatrist, and instead just answered those questions above. True: he’s a cool guy, concerned for me, fair and smart and I like him.
Adderall didn’t make my mind more structured. For me, it’s a muted surge of adrenaline that leaves me content to stare at a computer screen for several hours, infatuated with typing to the point that I can’t tear my mind away from it. But it doesn’t necessarily make me more focused, just kind of pumped up.
Anyway, adderall makes me get work done faster. I accomplish more. And it helped in my getting good grades last quarter.
Last final week I was amped on adderall, eating very little, drinking coffee for the extra effect at times, consuming fruit now and again, and writing really good papers. Afterwards, there was a crash of three days when I lay in bed watching movies, fidgeting, eating crab Rangoon, and feeling like a dried-up piece of meat.
I don’t take adderall much anymore, because I can’t sleep if I take it during the day, which really builds on itself until I’m zombie. Mostly though, if I’m going to spend a lot of my life reading and writing (which is my plan since I want to get a PhD in Philosophy), I need to be able to do this without the luxury of adderall all the time.
Adderall helps in partying, when you’re tired or hung-over or just out of it, but still want to go out. You pop a pill and feel the enthusiasm infiltrate your body. You’re up and with energy and can sustain a clear, focused night for a while. After turning in my final paper last quarter, at midnight, I took one more pill to infuse me for the night’s celebration, and felt strong until I finally fell asleep at 7 AM.
Anyway, I want to be able to do all my activities without stimulants. I want a body free of pollutants. I want my mind to do what I tell it to, without a pill that works from the outside. But that divide between inside my mind and outside with a pill is receding away, such that soon (already) it’s not interesting.