I've had ADHD for 10 years now. I was diagnosed with it in kindergarten. Truthfully, I don't remember every detail of my life before ADHD, but there are some things I can't help remembering. For example, in kindergarten I was sent to the "time-out chair" about two or three times daily. The reason? I would say things that would hurt the other kids. Why did I say these mean things? Because I'd never think about what I was going to say or the consequences. Another thing I'll never forget is how antsy and talkative I was. Every day after lunch, there was a competition to see whose table was quietest. Of course, I could never stop talking or moving, so my table was always last.
I have taken two medications to treat my ADHD. From first through fifth grade, I took Ritalin, which was not very good for me. Ritalin took away my appetite completely, so I lost dramatic amounts of weight. My teachers had to inspect my lunch to see if I ate it! Now I take Adderall. It has worked for me, but it has taken so long to find the right dosage.
I guess you could say my life changed a good deal after the treatment, because I had a lot more focus. But to tell you the truth, I could not see the difference until the seventh grade. By then, I was a straight-A student because of it. I may be naturally smart, but I never could have applied myself as much without it. Nowadays, I know when I need my medicine because it lets me perform to my full ability.
Recently I've become aware of the side effects of my medicine, which are a problem. I am a totally different person on it than off it. This is called emotional lability. While on the medicine in school, I rarely ask my friends what there is to do on the weekend. At lunch, I literally sit at the table without saying a word, and because of that, I have lost a whole bunch of friends. I drift from table to table, but I don't have one true group that I belong to. This gets me depressed at times. But when I am off my medicine, I am this outgoing, spontaneous, hilarious person. When I go to parties, I do not take my medicine, and I go absolutely wild. I will dance the entire night, walk up to anyone and start talking. People who know me say, "Jessi, you're so different at parties and outside of school." Truly, they are right. I do not like suffering from emotional lability, and it sometimes makes me cry.
It also affects how I am with my family. When I am off my medication, I am hysterically funny with my parents and a lot more imaginative in playing with my younger sister and brother. But I also have a shorter temper, which leads to conflicts with my sister. We make each other cry. So my condition and treatment have definitely affected my family, for good and bad.
Feeling different from other kids has never been an issue for me. I just see myself as someone who has to have medicine to concentrate better. I will tell my friends straight off that I am ADHD; if they don't like that, well, then too bad. In eighth grade, we were given nicknames ("most likely's," actually) and mine was Miss Hyper! It didn't bother me. I think it showed my classmates are cool with it. My teachers are very accepting of my condition, but I find it difficult when a teacher does not know I am allowed extra time on tests. I used to feel guilty about getting extra time, but now I accept it because I know I need it.