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Mar 28

My Day Without ADHD Medicine


By Kelly Babcock… Twice in the past seven days I’ve managed to forget my meds. I take Concerta, which is Methylphenidate.  Methylphenidate is better known in our tribe as Ritalin. Did you know that Ritalin was named after the wife of its creator? Ciba chemist, Leandro Panizzon formulated methylphenidate.  His wife, Marguerite (her nickname was Rita), suffered from low blood pressure and took the stimulant before playing tennis. One assumes that it may well have helped her focus on the game as well as keeping up her blood pressure.


Damn, I’m wandering, I was trying to tell you that I may wander because today is one of those two days that I forgot my medication. Apparently I can’t tell you that I’m wandering – without wandering.

Back to the story

Late this afternoon I realized I hadn’t taken my Concerta. I don’t crave it, I only notice I’ve missed it if I notice I’m having trouble focusing. Even then, I have to have the presence of mind to question the missing focus. Today (Tuesday) was the day from hell. I slept poorly, had a 150 mile return trip drive to an emergency dental appointment. I had to be home in time for an evening class.

Opportunity knocks … and I feel it

While on the road to a bigger urban center, I thought I’d pick up a few things that I’ve been wanting, so I made several stops. This is way outside my usual day, way beyond my comfort zone you might say.

Not the carefree life I normally lead

It took a while to realize, given that my day was so different, that I was not focused, not calm. While coming home and expecting things to calm down, I found that they weren’t. It took that to clue me in; I had no stimulant on board.

Oh oh, The night school horror show – part two

I cringed emotionally when I remembered I had to attend a class this evening. The last time I took a class without medication was prior to my diagnosis. I took my digital recorder to one of the freelance journalist classes to help with the display of “tools of the trade” and somehow managed to turn it on. It faithfully recorded over 40 minutes of me interrupting, talking out of turn, drumming my fingers, tapping my pen, just being a general all around ADHDer. Was I destined to repeat that at tonight’s class? I vowed I would not.

Man of DistrAction is supposed to be a super-hero name. I’m supposed to stop speeding locomotives, or leap tall buildings, all that stuff, and here I was afraid of taking a class without my stimulant medication.

It was, of course, way to late to take it, it would just be wearing off on Wednesday morning. I bit the bullet, climbed into my trusty pickup truck and, feeling like I was lost in a Joni Mitchel song, I headed into town.

“Class, come to order now … ”

I sat down and reminded myself I was here to learn, and I was just going to have to do that. If my scattered and unfocused approach to classwork caused others to have issues, that would be bad, my bad. I would do my best to restrain and refrain, I did not want to feel like I was letting others down. I bit my tongue.

How did that go?

I think I pulled it off. Class went well, I’ll talk more about that on Friday.

Possibly because of my sheer exhaustion I sat and listened. I spoke when it was my turn, mostly. When I spoke I kept it to a minimum and kept on topic. I behaved well …

And then I bolted!

As soon as class ended I left without fanfare. I made it home without incident and slipped into bed to catch up on the rest I had missed the night before. As my mind slowed down to the mildly wild hum that allows me to sleep, and as I drifted off into that sleep I thought to myself “I could handle another day like that … But I don’t ever want to!”

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