Ah, July 26. It was ten years ago today that I landed in Canada -- one of the worst days of my life. I had just seen my family after 19 days away from them and I was now in a place that had side-wards traffic lights and big, circular bales of hay sitting on the medians of the highways. Thinking about it now, it was probably bales of weeds -- Edmonton's way of sprucing up. Anyway, I hated Edmonton for seeming so close to Utah but appearing so odd -- even though most things were similar. I hated my mission president, who suddenly became the authority figure in my life. Then, his wife told me that I needed to learn to clean out my shower with a squeegee. Yeah, a squeegee. Her tone was a bit off-putting, as well.
Over the next few months, all of that changed. It took some time, but I became a pretty good missionary. I loved my mission president, and developed a close relationship with him (aka A.P.). I came home eight years (and 15 days) ago motivated to make something of myself.
Now, my plan was to be good at school, but to kind of drag it out. I thought finishing college meant getting a career, and getting a career meant getting a boring life. But, the plan wasn't to be finishing up school as a 29-year-old. I was hoping to be done by about 26, or thereabouts. Folks who are 26 are old and boring anyway (to 21-year-old me), so I figured it'd be a great age to be finished.
My first class was a computer course. Fellow named Orgil or something taught it. He was a George McFly type, only a bit on the ornery side. Our first assigned homework was to read the first chapter of the book. A breeze, I thought to myself. Little did I know that chapters in textbooks are 48 pages long for some ridiculous reason. Still, I was going to give it the ol' College Try (literally, and I literally mean 'literally'). Twenty minutes in, I was two pages in, and I hadn't learned anything. It was frustrating. I tried a few more times, but to no avail. I strubbled, I mean 'struggled' in that class. I thought it might just be the adjustment to both being home and my first semester of college. By my third semester, though, I figured out that I probably had ADD.
I didn't do anything about it, though. There were a lot of reasons. I wanted to learn to control my mind. I didn't want to have excuses. I didn't want to be one of those people who think having a 'problem' makes them interesting. I didn't want to take a drug that in any way altered or controlled my brain. I thought that I just needed to work a little harder on focusing -- if that didn't work, then I'd see a doctor. But, I didn't know what doctor to see. Do normal doctors know how to deal with this? I also figured that this was one of those things that a lot of people went to the doctor thinking they had (as an excuse or a 'problem'), so the doctor would just brush me off or something. Also, I admit, that I was worried that I would end up NOT having ADD. Then what would I do? Did it mean I was stupid?
Anyway, I chipped away at school. I'd sign up for two or three classes and endure the ones I didn't fall behind in. Me and classes that talked bout ethos, pathos and logos lasted a month, tops. In a semester, two classes was the norm, three classes was a feat, one class was not an unheard of occurrence.
In 2005, I saw the error of my plan to take my time in school. I remember realizing this at this party at the house of these douchey acquaintances of some of my friends. They were done with school and doing what they wanted (even if those things they were doing were lame things). A graduate doesn't necessarily need a career, I learned. So, I decided to get a little more serious. And I did. My course load didn't increase, but my aim became more true.
In May 2008, my little sister graduated. That's when I got depressed. The best case scenario would have me graduating a year from that day(ended up not happening). I would be graduating at age 29. That seemed to old for someone who had been in school since 2001.
Fall semester 2008, I took two of my most difficult classes. They were they first classes I had taken that actually required the students to use the textbooks. There was no way to get by without them. I knew this about one of the classes, Mass Media Law, before it even started, so I was prepared. I worked harder than I ever had, and I struggled. I passed both, but it was torture. It was the first time in my life that I wondered if I was stupid.
Lisa (with whom I have this blog) talked me into getting tested for ADD. I hated feeling stupid, and I also figured that a married fellow needed to have all of his wits about him, so I finally went in two days before I got married.
Just as I had worried about, the doctor was skeptical. My family didn't have a (known) history of ADD, which I guess is crucial. She told me that ADD is something that doesn't just pop up, it starts affecting people when they are younger. I thought about it, and traced it back to when I was in elementary school. I just hadn't realized it until then. She still wasn't convinced. Then I mentioned two things: 1) I'm still in school and have been for eight years and 2) I spent four hours packing for my honeymoon and got practically nothing done.
That lit a fire. She pulled up two tests on her computer, and I ADD-aced them. The tests aren't really accurate assessments, but I was looking pretty severe. So, she prescribed Adderall.
I'm surprised how much things changed. Paying attention in class became possible with a little bit of effort. Studying a textbook became easy without much effort (most times). I was better at buckling down and getting my job done at work. As I mentioned, before Adderall, it took me hours to pack for vacations. A few weeks after I started on the drug, Bryton and I moved out of my old house in less than two hours. My eyes were also opened to how much I hated the way hipsters dressed. Seriously. I also was able to conclude that dudes who wear V-neck shirts are the new douchebags in the world.
Adderall is a controlled substance, though, so it isn't without its downside. Sometimes, like right now, I can't sleep. Occasionally, I am really sensitive about stupid things. Other times, I am moody. Oh, and I have a tendency to zone things out: If I am talking to somebody, or watching a show, and someone else comes and starts talking to me, I have noticed -- or they have -- that I am not at all paying attention. (I think I have improved this a lot in the last few months.)
But overall, Adderall is a pretty good drug. It doesn't automatically give me focus. I still have to work for it. After almost 29 years of my brain roaming if it wanted to, roaming around the world, it can be hard to reel it in. I need to do a lot more training of my new capacity to focus to I have less times where my mind goes nuts.
This is long, and I apologize. I've been meaning to write my little Ode to Adderall for about five months now. I knew it would end up being long, and therefore would take a lot of time to write, and that because of its length, hardly anybody would end up reading it. Oh, well. I needed to write this love letter so that Addy new my true feelings.