My experience trialing ADHD Medication

Note- this is not medical opinion – this is just based on experience. If you need support with medication please seek that from your medical professional

As you may know from my last blog post – I was recently diagnosed with ADHD. As part of this I have been trialling ADHD medication. Currently i am on a 20 mg dose twice a day of Rubifen SR – which is a long acting version of Rubifen (Methylphenidate). This is a stimulant medication the manage ADHD symptoms. For me the experience has been good, and at times challenging. I would say for me personally there have been great aspects of starting medication – these include that I find that i can focus more on my work, i have the ability to plan out more, I find it easier to make decisions and to follow throuogh on tasks. I have also found it has helped regulate me more and has made me calmer. I have also found that i’m less distracted and focused when driving and also less clumsy.

There are also challenging elements that I found with the last month. The worst symptom i have found with ADHD medication was nausea, which i have found i have had worst when I have driven to work, the other symptom i have had while adjusting to dosages has been tiredness (heh – who would have thought with a stimulant). 

What have i found helpful on the journey

For me personally – I have tried to be open and honest with people about trialling medication. I told work about my adhd assessment and told them about the fact that i would be trialling medication – this was a personal choice, but i thought it would be most helpful so that we can work together if any side effects needed to be managed. I also told work mates that i was taking medication and to let me know if there was anything that was worrying them around side effects (including irritability and anxiety) and I have regularly talked with my wife to see how she thinks the medication is working or not working.

What have I needed to be aware of.

Lots of times we hear when people start stimulant medication – we hear that it is a life changer, I think we need to be open to the fact it isn’t a perfect journey. For me there have been times of frustration, particularly early on changing dosages and trying to work out an optimum amount to help manage ADHD symptoms. I had been aware of this previously with expeirences of trialing medication with our child as well – but became more aware of it in my own experience, particularly learning how hard the first few come downs from medication were.

I have also had to be more aware of intrusive thoughts – it is been interesting, because with more focus, these have been more obvious – identifying themes to do with where self – confidence may be lacking or negative thoughts around how i am doing. 

I have also become aware of the transition – and managing ADHD – i have tried to become more aware of my lifestyle choices. Particularly around eatin food that is ADHD freindly and doesn’’t upset my stomach. This means i’m eating more high protien foods such as yogurt and humus, and increased my fruit and vegetables. 

I am also reflecting on my routine – part and parcel with starting medication i have started to actively increase my level of exercise. Personally I find if I do a walk or exercise in the morning my medication works alot better and i’m a lot focused.

As i’m still looking at how the medication is working and managing ADHD – I”m also planning on doing a symptom check  and record of exercise, what i’m eating and sleep to see how things impact on my symptoms and medication.

What are you doing to manage the transition

For me personally – i have tried to be reflective on the journey. I have also been trying to practice self compassion with myself. If you are looking for self compassion exercises you can find some here.

I also also found most of those activities that I would engage with previously to help calm me/ support me in life are the ones that are most helpful for me now – they include – listening to music, pray/karakia, talking with freinds/ colleagues/ partner, going for walks, patting the dog, playing with my child, playing board games, getting out in the garden, going to the beach.

My ADHD diagnosis journey

So this is a life update on my blog about me – One of the things I try to be honest about in my life is about some of my struggles – particularly with being someone who is neurodivergent. I have known that I am different from a young age. Sadly at times the way that this was expressed was negatively, particularly from teachers – at a young age I was called slow coach, which has impacted me and my own self esteem over the years. I have often worked on this by promoting positive self talk. I have at times found it hard to read, to concentrate,and sometimes find it hard to follow through with day to day tasks. Over the years I have discovered that have dyslexia (Whch I knew about from a young age, then discovered a few years ago that i have dyspraxia).

About three years ago now we found out that Mr 7 has ADHD. At that time i didn’t suspect i had it. I only thought that i had Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. I didn’t present as the normal “ADHDer”, but i know that i did have deep issues with self, and could at times get really highly anxious. I spent a lot of time reading about ADHD, how it presented, and then noticed that i had some of the tell tale signs of ADHD myself.

In about the middle of the year I decided to go and get a referal for an ADHD diagnosis.

For adult ADHD in New Zealand there are two ways in which you can go down for a diagnosis. 1) Psychologist 2) Psychiatrist. Psychologist’s can do a report for you but they can not provide stimulant ADHD medication. For this you will need to see a Psychiatrist. For adult adhd – there are two tracks – 1) Private – this is expensive and most time the mimimum is just under $1000, 2 Public-this doesn’t cost but there are limited public spots available

The steps for referal are 

  1. Talk to your GP about a ADHD diagnosis, what your symptoms are, how long they have been present. They will write a general note to a specialist,
  2. Arrange an appointment with a specialist – like I said – I would recommend a Psychiatrist as they can do all in one – and you will be able to trial medication straight away.
  3. Once you have arranged an appoitment your specialist will send you some screening exercises to complete, these will include something like the CARRs observer and self forms or the DIVA vs 5 for Adult ADHD.
  4. Interview – the interview will be with the specialist. They will ask you when symptoms have presented, about other medication you take, any other psychological disorders you may have. 
  5. You will receive a report outlining whether you have an adhd diagnosis or not
  6. If you have seen a Psychiatrist they will prescribe you with a stimulant medication – usually on a low dose, they will ask you to report how you are feeling, any symptoms you have and will adjust accordingly.

I have bee diagnosed with mild ADHD – mainly inattentive – but also meet the criteria for low level hyperactive ADHD as well. I’m currently trialing 20 mg two times a day of Rubifen (Methylphenidate) – which is assisting me – i feel calmer on it and it is assisting me with following through at home and in life as well.

I will try and write a little bit more over the next while about my journey – what i’m noticing, how it is helping, what i’m struggling with.

Please let me know if you have any questions.