Playing Med-Roulette'

I know others of you have offered some advice about what meds worked for you, but I figure it's time to post my whole medication saga in the hopes that maybe there is a better way to find the right med/dosage for me without just picking at random and giving it a shot and then trying again over and over until somehow eventually stumbling on the solution.

I am 33 now. I was diagnosed at 18 during a semester off from college after nearly flunking out my first year. The psychiatrist who initially treated me put me on ritalin. Soon after, I went back to college (out of state) and then only saw a doctor at the campus med center once a month to get my refill. He drilled me with suspicious questions every month to be sure I wasn't just faking it and hooked on the meds, as if that could somehow suddenly change from one month to the next. I didn't like taking my ritalin and wasn't all that consistent about it. Knowing what I know now, I am sure it was either the wrong med or the wrong dosage. Eventually I stopped taking the ritalin. A few years later I went back on it for a while and, although I still wasn't sure I really liked being on it, I was told by others that it helped regulate my mood. Eventually, I went off it again.

Fast forward to now, over ten years later. I have since learned so much more about what ADD is, how it affects me, and how to better manage it. I also have different priorities and goals. I am now married with four kids. But, as time goes by and my kids are starting to get older, I have realized that I have never truly managed my ADD effectively, despite understanding it and dealing with it. But, I can't keep just dealing with it. I need to better manage myself, my home, and my family. And, it seems to me that I have an amazing set of tools I've acquired over the years, but can't seem to use them properly and being on medication is the missing piece of the puzzle. So, I went to my current doctor to get back on some meds.


My husband (who's also ADD) takes adderall, so I tried some of his for a few days before seeing my doc. (I know, I know. I don't need a lecture on why that's a no-no.) I told him about it and that I could tell there was something happening, and he put me on adderall, too. Started at 15mg 2x/day. Upped it to 22.5mg. Have also tried it at 30mg dose. I can tell some difference, most notably to my mood and patience. On adderall I am much more in control of my emotions and much more able to deal with the day to day challenges of having young kids. I am able to better focus mentally. However, I have never felt significant effect on my motivation and my ability to get started (much less finish what I start), which is one of the things I struggle with the most.

After a month of trying the adderall, I had a followup with my doc. I told him I can see and feel a difference, but not the clarity and "turning on the lights" or "fog clearing" I keep hearing about from others. He is now trying me on ritalin. I don't like it. It doesn't seem to help much with focus, not at all with motivation, and very little with moods. In fact, the opposite is often true. Quite often, ritalin makes me feel irrationally angry, almost raging. I can tell the anger and frustration is irrational, but it takes all my energy to keep it under control. I'm supposed to be trying this for a month and then go back for another followup. I don't think I can handle a month on ritalin, with basically no benefit and a side effect of extra anger and impatience.


My doctor, bless his heart, is great for all other health issues I've gone to him with. But, he just doesn't really know much about ADD or ADD meds. He just kind of shoots from the hip, and at this rate, it could be ages before we stumble across the right prescription for me. (Side note, although my doctor thinks 3 doses a day is too much, I find taking a third dose really helps because otherwise all the effects are gone my dinnertime, leaving me without the benefits of regulated mood and abilities during the time of day my family needs me to be at the top of my game the most.)

I know I ought to find a doctor who has more experience treating ADD, but I am at a loss as to how to find one of those. So, for now, I am trying to learn as much as I can about what course to try next, because this game of med-roulette isn't working for me. Any advice? Anyone experience similar effects from either of these, and if so, what eventually worked for you? Is there a better way to figure out the right combination of med and dosage, based on my most problematic symptoms and the effects of the two I have tried?