Like you, I resisted going the drug route, but have finally resigned myself to it, at least temporarily. I never even considered the idea I might have ADD until several months ago when my pastor and a client independently suggested it, because I'm not in the least bit hyper, and that's the stereotype. Not hyper externally, that is -- my brain has been in multitasking overdrive as long as I can remember. So two days ago I went to a doc and got diagnosed with inattentive ADD. (According to my responses, she said I was in the 99th percentile of men my age. I win!)
So now I'm on my third day of Vyvanse, an outrageously expensive amphetamine which kicks in 2 hours after you take it and lasts 14-16 hours. (From what I gather, the 2 hour thing is to cut back on abuse, since abusers don't get an immediate high from it.) So far so good. I wouldn't say my focus is great yet, but the hamsters in my head have definitely slowed down on their wheels. I've got a little more bounce in my step, and am noticeably happier and more confident. There are still things I'm worried about -- especially financial difficulties that my inability to focus got me into -- but those thoughts aren't overwhelming like they were. I still have to work on the behavioral stuff, but I seem headed in the right direction.
The list of side effects for Vyvanse was pretty short, and the only one I recall being clearly gut-related was constipation, because it tends to dry you out. But on a high-fat diet that's not likely to be an issue, and I drink a lot of water anyway. Sleep hasn't been a problem so far. Most of my sleep problems before were caused by the whirling thoughts, so calming those down may actually help me sleep better.
I don't really like the idea of taking a drug for the rest of my life -- especially one that costs $5/day -- so I hope eventually I can wean myself off this with quality diet, exercise, sun, etc. But I wasn't able to do those things as I was, because the whirling thoughts and the anxiety and depression that tended to accompany them made it too easy to fall off the wagon too often. Carb cravings were a big issue too, and when you give in to carb cravings, it's almost always with something like chips or ice cream, not a baked sweet potato. Then the blood sugar rush and crash only exacerbates the problem. If the drug can keep me stable enough to stick to the program for a while, maybe eventually I won't need it, or can at least cut back on it.
I'll check back in a couple weeks and report how it's going.
Well, after almost four weeks on Vyvanse, I only have positives to report (except the price). The first day, I felt "high," like on a major dose of caffeine, when you have a little too much bounce in your step and can kind of feel your hair growing. (I've never taken any other stimulants, so that's all I can compare it to.) Since then, though, it's leveled out nicely. I started on a fairly low dose of 30, and went to 60 after the first week, and that seems fine. There were two days that I knew were going to be extra stressful and disorganized, so I took 90, and didn't see a major change, so I'm probably about right at 60.
It's hard to describe the effect, but the best I can come up with is to say the wheels in my head have slowed down. If something was on my mind before, it might come "through" my consciousness once a minute or so, depending on how much it was bothering me, so I was multitasking from one thought to the next every second sometimes. (One time I made the mistake of fully answering the question, "You're so quiet, what are you thinking about?" Beginning of the end of that marriage.) Now all those thoughts are still there, but they don't keep circling to the forefront without permission nearly as often. I can still think about them when I want to, but they're much more under control. It's like my brain is more a filing cabinet and less one big unsorted inbox.
Emotions are more controlled too. Of course, that's because emotions are driven by thoughts, so if worrisome thoughts aren't bombarding you every couple seconds, the corresponding emotions won't be driven as hard. I'm not emotionless at all; if I think about something sad/scary/pleasant/funny/annoying, I feel those emotions. But they seem more appropriate to the circumstances, and aren't nearly as likely to become a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and emotions leading to despair. Looking back at some journals I wrote in the months before I got diagnosed, I can see that happening. I'd write my impressions of an event on Friday, and they'd be generally positive, and by Monday I'd be half-convinced Friday was a disaster and nothing could be done to fix it, even though nothing had happened in the meantime to change my mind, except the wheels spinning and overheating.
On the organization/ambition side of things, I've still got a long way to go. I've been a terrible procrastinator and have never learned any self-discipline when it comes to meeting deadlines or looking for work (I'm self-employed). (To make a long story short, I'm smart enough that I've always been able to get away with that, at least enough to satisfy teachers in school and stay just ahead of the bill collectors since.) But I'm making some progress on that, and at least I can see that progress is possible now. I told my doctor that it feels like I was operating at 10% of potential before, and now I might be up to 20-30%. Learning new work and life habits will take longer, but they'll be necessary to get me the other 70-80%.
I'd never have gotten off 10% without the drug, though. I've been trying for 20+ years, without knowing what the problem was. Low carb helped, gluten-free helped, treating it as adrenal fatigue helped a little, happy times like falling in new love helped, the distraction of a new job or home helped. But none of them got me over the hump to where I felt like I was really handling it; and whenever life threw me a curve ball, pure willpower wasn't enough to keep me on the diet or whatever that had been helping a little. Now I think I really can handle it through the ups and downs -- and I still have worries, some of the worst being the financial hole dug by my previous inability to get things done, so it's not like everything is rosy yet -- but the bad stuff doesn't seem like doom and the good stuff seems attainable.
I'm not going to become one of those people who thinks everyone who's having a bad month or who feels stressed should get a prescription for something. But I'll never again look down on those who do. I was never suicidal, so I can't say it saved my life, but it's already making my life a lot more worth living.