Around the age of 11, I began to notice my academic performance slipping.
While my peers were outgrowing their restless stage and excelling in class, I found it difficult to even read through a paragraph of my textbooks, let alone retain the information for projects and tests.
My parents and teachers noticed this, too. My grades were at an all-time low, and I lacked motivation to make it through a 40-minute class, frequently asking to be excused to the restroom or doodling across my notes.
Looking for a way to resolve this, my parents sought counseling and regular visits with my school guidance counselor, which lasted throughout my high school career.
While most people said I would either outgrow this or learn a routine that worked at keeping me focused, that was far from the case.
Fast forward 10 years later to my junior year of college, when I was dismissed due to my well-below-average performance. I wasn't completing homework, and I was rushing to finish exams in class... if I was even going to class.
It wasn't that I didn't want to get up and go to lecture. Rather, it was more that I didn't see the need to go if I wasn't paying attention.
Thankfully, I was offered the option to appeal my dismissal if legitimate reasoning for my 1.8 GPA was provided by a medical professional. One week later, it became official: I was diagnosed with ADHD.
Finally, after a decade of feeling passionate about learning, yet unable to summarize a paragraph I had just finished reading or take complete notes in class, I was given an answer to the cause of my academic grief.
Since I had been through years of counseling to no avail, my doctor made a decision that changed both my personal and professional life for the better. He prescribed me Vyvanse, the sister drug of Adderall.
Vyvanse was developed by Shire Pharmaceuticals in an effort to deter abuse of the drug. Vyvanse contains a protein that must be digested in the stomach to release the active ingredients, and because of this, the pill can't be snorted and must be taken orally.
Immediately upon making it public knowledge that I was diagnosed with ADHD (and given a hefty, 90-day supply of what is basically amphetamine), I received two types of responses: 1) Can I buy from you? and 2) ADHD isn't real.
Both responses were incredibly insulting. The drug I need to function normally was either something my peers pined over in order to take their studies to advanced levels (and snubbed me when I refused to sell to them) or something adults and skeptics rolled their eyes at.
Regardless of the judgement passed, my ADHD diagnosis and Vyvanse prescription changed my life for the better.
My grades immediately improved, I had my first 4.0 semester and I was finally able to secure my first job with my local MLB team, showing off my knowledge as a sport management student.
In class, I spent less time stressing about my inability to focus and more time engaging in lectures and taking accurate notes.
There were changes in my personal life, too. I became a better listener when my friends needed to vent about guys, and the social anxiety I dealt with for years seemed to vanish.
Today, six years later, I still rely on my prescription Monday through Friday. Judgement comes in waves and is something I continue to see, even after my successes in life.
While there are still those who pass judgement on me for having an "imaginary disease" or for being an adult who can't focus on even minor tasks without the aid of my medication, I've learned to laugh it off and take pride in the fact that I took control of both my life and attention span.
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