During the February – June 2017 Semester, I took a ‘Leave of Absence’. I was struggling with depression, (performance) anxiety and in April, I got my ADHD Type 2 diagnosis. I only just got back to uni, and decided to only follow one course, to just get things started again, and see how I am doing. So here I will tell you a little bit about my medication, my wellbeing lately & the past few months of being back at uni.
Firstly, for a month now, I have gotten medication to help with my focus & my general inatentiveness. Haha, boy was that fun. First mistake I made was drinking a cup of coffee right after my second methylphenidate pill of the trial. Caffeine and meds are NOT a good combination, let’s just say I found out the hard way. I sat in the library spacing out like never before. I could no longer read what was on my screen, my legs felt very tingly, my heart was racing & beating very loudly in my experience & I had a bit of trouble navigating. So then all I had to do the rest of the past month was simply explain why I was a sucker & drinking decaffeinated coffee, which was a small price to pay for both functioning properly & having an easier time focusing ;). Aside from the caffeine mishaps, (I also once thought chocolate covered coffee beans were chocolates, and got slight palpitations) I experienced barely any side-effects, which was nice, and I seemed to find it easier to focus & drag myself to the library to study.
Aside from medication, I am more aware of my own boundaries due to AD(H)D. I loved doing a thousand things at a time, but I finally realized that is no longer possible. I use 2 big planners, a weekly one on A3 format, & a monthly one on A4, still pretty decent :). It just helps me see how, what & where I have commitments, I need to take time for me & generally get an overview of things, and thus peace of mind (YAY!). This also means going to bed on time, which is something I still struggle with. I still tend to be like “sure I have time after dance practice, I’ll come & have a drink” after I have spent all day studying and it’s already 11 at night. However, I’m working on it. Last week I said yes to the drinks, now I said maybe ;). Accepting my boundaries is still a tough one as you may have guessed.
The library is my favorite place to study by the way. The environment causes for me to feel like I am socially obliged to focus. This helps, plus then I get happy about my focusing well & I push through. Also, I take breaks with friends, which helps me rest my brain a little, gives me some low-key social interaction, and I am kinder toward myself, & hence I study better when I return to my spot, win-win-win all around! I counter these long days in the library then with 4 nights a week of ballroom dancing, or so I try. I generally make 3 of them. This sounds like huge amounts, but seeing as one of those nights I assist someone who has only just started the beginner course, it’s not that much, plus it’s fun!
It is only recently that I started to struggle somewhat though. I notice my exams are coming closer, the pressure is building (or so I think in my head) and I am 1. afraid I’ll give up between now & exams, but also 2. afraid I can’t do it. In general I am very happy with my decision to go back to uni, I am passionate and super intrigued by the material, as well as happy simply have gotten things started again. I was doing so well in my opinion, but now I’m seeing flashes of my old self where I started to avoid, and just gave up right before a big test/ deadline, and I get really really scared. Also, meds are not magic. Once I am focused, I find it easier to maintain focus & not get distracted. But for information to capture my attention enough to get me to focus is still tough. If I am either not really interested, or if I already am starting to avoid, it is still a big power struggle inside my brain. So yeah. Fun times. I am working on it, once again.