Healing From the Inside Out: Exhaling Darkness.

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Inhale. Adderall. Exhale.

There isn’t a better moment than your strongest to let go of your weakest.

In just six months of committing myself to a daily yoga practice, my strength has flourished. I am able to do more advanced postures like handstands and arm balances. And in these challenging postures, I exhale my weakest moments.

I exhale the months I was taking Adderall.

I was diagnosed with ADHD in November of 2014 for inability to focus, impulsiveness, depression and mood swings. I was prescribed 10mg for two weeks, then referred to a nurse practitioner behavioral specialist who put me on 40mg of immediate release.

Adderall is a central nervous stimulant that alters the quantities of naturally occurring chemicals in the brain. It enhances the effects of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine.

Translation: Pure ecstasy.

At this time in my life, I was running trail marathons. Adderall made me feel like I just discovered my own two legs as well as what pine trees smelled like. I could feel music vibrate through my toes to the crown of my head. And sex…holy sh*t. I might as well have been sleeping with Jimi Hendrix because it was completely and entirely unreal.

But it didn’t take long for all of that to wear off. Something that plays on your emotions is only a recipe for disaster.

I believe it was in January that things took a deep, deep plunge for the worst. I would rearrange my knick-knacks for hours upon hours. Sometimes these hours would turn into full days. I would clean obsessively. I purchased sh*t that I didn’t even have money for. I purchased clothes that weren’t even my real taste. Everything became a complete psychosis. I would stay up for three days at a time and never ate, which was the number one reason I loved Adderall. I had zero appetite. Since I grew up with Crohn’s Disease and malnourished whenever I was healthy enough to eat, it immediately made me feel fat because I never knew a healthy body weight.

From the over stimulation, I would run about 70-90 miles a week in Indiana’s frigid winter, which began to make my skin peel. And that’s when I became consumed with the obsession of my skin.

I started with picking at my face with my filthy cigarette hands, which quickly escalated to me digging into my skin with tweezers causing deep scars on my face. I would scrub my face until it would bleed. I would use full bottles of scrubs and moisturizers in one night. Then I would pour an entire bottle of foundation on my face and sleep in it. I caused my own acne and my own scars.

I was so far gone, I didn’t even know who I was anymore, which was something I rejoiced in half of the time.

I know now that I started digging into my own skin because I wanted my outside to reflect how ugly I felt on the inside. I had been so over stimulated for so long, my body didn’t have any dopamine or norepinephrine left to release causing severe depression and suicidal thoughts.

I quit taking Adderall the same day I enrolled in Passion Yoga School. And since then my life has been drastically different. I have built an incredible amount of inner strength from a daily practice. Yoga begins to change us by building physical strength to mentally be able to see ourselves at our fullest potential. You show up every day on your mat and you start to overcome your fears.

I knew all along what Adderall was doing to my body and mind, but the hardest part was letting go. Yoga empowered me to face myself, to dive in deep to shed layers of my past, depression and self-destructiveness, bringing nothing but light into my life.

“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

Yoga has given me an intense feeling of gratitude for my past. If I wouldn’t have grown up so sick or lived in a psychosis, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have found my purpose and passion in life.

The darkness always teaches us the most. I used to have flawless skin, but Adderall and myself ruined that. I never knew what it felt like to have acne and scars, and to feel like everyone is constantly judging me pimple by pimple. It consumes me so much that you don’t even want to leave my house.

We are so much more than our bodies, diseases and skin.

Since November my complexion has drastically healed with the help of my esthetician and micro dermal peels. Dermatologists only want to prescribe us a pill that doesn’t even fix the problem.

Adderall and yoga taught me the importance of knowing every little detail about what I’m putting into my body. Why would we ever want to consume a pill that you have no idea what will do to us? We have to be mindful of everything we ingest in our lives.

Most importantly, yoga has taught me to be vulnerable. We can’t fully heal from our wounds if we don’t expose them. Those weights only become heavier. We can’t embrace confidence if we’re holding on to habits or people that don’t serve us. And my past doesn’t serve me.

Tomorrow morning I begin my training here in Costa Rica to become an instructor, and I’m going to leave the past where it belongs.

 

Relephant Read: 

Healing from the Inside Out: A Practice in Self-Love.

Bonus! Healthy ways to deal with everyday depression:

Author: Megan Ziemer

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr

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anonymous Apr 5, 2016 9:04am

our comment is awaiting moderation.

I’m going to start with my question so it doesn’t get lost in case I rang or vent…. #1 – after 10years on ads, and 3 years addicted to very high doses of it…. I’m trying to get off them and tapering doesn’t work. It’s all or nothing in my addiction phase … I am trying to get on nuvigil with my doctor. That said, foggy and lethargic is constant, but the MOST AWFUL of the side effects is constant shaking legs, fidgeting because being still feels like torture!! Up and down, in bed out of bed, shaking legs like restess leg syndrome….OH AND OFF ADS, I grind my teeth to the point of embarrassment in public…. Please please Relate with this and tell me it will get better, and what was ur timeline like???? Best,

D

anonymous Mar 4, 2016 11:11pm

Very simply, you’re not ADHD. I am, and have never experienced anything like you’re describing. ADHD meds calm me down and help me focus.

anonymous Mar 3, 2016 2:25pm

So interesting, I have Crohn’s Disease as well and became addicted to meth for the same reasons when I was younger. It’s been 10 years since I’ve done meth but I started dating a guy a few years ago who took adderall and after a while I cracked one day and took one. I got the same old rush I used to get, started stealing a few from him here and there, small amounts as to not get caught. Luckily that was a short phase. I stopped and my life has been happily drug free for a while now. My heart goes out to all still trying to get out from under the addiction.

I do want to make a comment to Elephant journal, and I’m surprised no one else has mentioned this. It’s tough for addicts and recovering addicts to see images of their drug of choice without it sparking something. I was jarred to open the link and see those little blue pills staring at me and admittedly I kind of want one now after not touching one for 4 years! It’s hard to explain the feeling, but it’s not a good one, it’s like seeing an ex who abused you. I would kindly like to suggest the image is replaced and/or you are more thoughtful about this in the future.

    anonymous Mar 3, 2016 2:43pm

    Thanks Carrie. My initial thought though, is how does anyone avoid seeing pictures of pills or alcohol or anything? These images are everywhere online, on TVs and in movies. All of these images can't be removed from life. Many alcoholics live with people and even partners who drink alcohol. There must be things people can do to learn to live with these images in a world where they will always be there.

anonymous Dec 3, 2015 6:18am

Never took adderall but I was given way too high a dose of two different types of anti depressants which caused seratonin syndrome. I rember telling my mum I feel like I could smell or even hear colours. Noises nearly blew my head off and my facial muscles contorted into a smile on its own. Everything was ultra heightend Eventually I felt like i was having a heart attack and anxiety kept me from leaving the house.

anonymous Nov 3, 2015 10:38am

After years of suffering with the wrong diagnoses(es) and medication(s), finally, the correct diagnosis of ADD (along with ultra smart, conservative, and very caring doctors and practitioners) was sent to me, like a gift from God! (along with Adderall)

I’m not here to judge, or be judged, but graduating to 40mg of immediate release so quickly, seems aggressive. I’m also wondering if your prescribed was aware of your running/exercises practices, or your OCD organizing & skin picking/self-mutalation? In the early days of my ADD diagnosis, after much discussion, I made the very well thought-out decision to try stimulant medication, under close supervision of my behavioral health doctor, as well as my general practitioner. To start, monthly visits were the norm, ANY time there was a new med, or a dosage change, carefully monitoring my mood, energy levels, sleep patterns, any new behaviors or habits, generalized ability to function in everyday life situations, and, of course, my physical health: blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, etc.

I consider myself blessed with a healthy body, so I can appropriately treat my “unique” mind, allowing me to be the best me – for my family and me! Adderall is right for me. My body (and mind) have never been healthier. Wherever you stand on the role that genetics play in a person’s likelihood of developing addictive personalities/behaviors/disorders, there’s no argument that taking stimulant medication increases these risks. Again, I have been blessed in that I do not have addictive tendencies, and have never abused Adderall, or any other drug (legal, prescribed, or otherwise).

If I hadn’t grown in my own ADD spiritual journey myself, I might take a little offense to your post, and your overall position against Adderall. But, I respect your experience, as I presume your intentions are not malicious or judgemental.

I have a philosophy about using “good tools” in life… Would you expect good results if a barber gave a shave with a rusty, dull razor? A cardiologist treated a seriously ill patient, based on an EKG test done with broken equipment? Tools, in the very literal sense of the word, are used to help us complete a task, achieve a goal, or even produce something, in an efficient manner, that simplifies our lives. With all due respect, in my opinion, one of the reasons why your Adderall experience was negative, is because your prescribed was irresponsible. And, who’s to say – even if your treatment was more conservative & monitored closer that your results would have been any different. That’s neither here nor there at this point. What matters now is that you are happy and healthy, and you have found the “right tools” to get you there!

For me, and for now, I will keep my amazing doctor, and my Adderall in my “tool box” because they both help me achieve great results, in a healthy and efficient way that simplifies my life.

Namaste.

anonymous Nov 3, 2015 5:01am

Wow ……. very clear case of incorrect diagnosis OR incorrect dose. This isn't about Adderall. This response could be for any medication incorrectly prescribed.

anonymous Nov 2, 2015 3:43pm

Megan, I needed this …I need more though. I need some help with taking my life back, and I have questions (not medical don’t fret!) Can u message me? Dallas.n83 at. Gmail.com

anonymous Nov 2, 2015 2:49pm

Dexadrin is the same.
I was prescribed it off label for depression a few years ago and have brought up concerns about if it’s affecting my mental health,
But I have a undiagnosed illness that causes extreme fatigue and skin peeling on my face and hands so bad that at times I have been left with what looks like burnt off skin where I am having to hold towels to my face cause I’m dripping what I have been told by the hospital to be lymphatic fluid. The pain is so horrible that I am only prescribed more pills narcotic pain meds ( diluted, morphine, Tylenol 3 , and so on )
So now I’m on a combo of two different antidepressant, dexadrine, clonazepam, diluted, Tylenol 3 every for hours.

My doctor recently told me he will no longer be my doctor ( my health problems being to complex ) and because of what I belive to be med induced psychosis, I’ve lost support from my family.
I live alone not able to work for many factors and have never been faced with so much stress. I was in a extremely physicaly, emotionaly and sexually abusive relationship for a couple years, ( I’m no longer in contact with this person ) but because of my health restrictions and not being mobile I haven’t had help to recover or heal from that or the many other traumas I have been threw since becoming ill, two years ago.
It’s inspirational to see you were able to recover and are now well.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Love and peace be with you, Veronica

anonymous Nov 2, 2015 2:19pm

Ran marathons? With “cigarette hands” sure.

anonymous Aug 27, 2015 2:13pm

Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve done yoga off and on for almost thirty years, with only periodic years of consistency. I had recommitted to a daily practice about the time I stumbled on Elephant Journal. The stories here have helped me acknowledge how much my intermittent practice has aided me through the years and helped to strengthen my renewed commitment to a daily practice.

anonymous Aug 27, 2015 8:57am

While I am thrilled for the author and her new, healthy and happy life, I cannot help but feel that this piece conveys a dangerous and misleading premise.

Adderall is a safe and effective tool for those who have legitimate ADHD/ADD. When prescribed at a proper dosage, and when the patient is not suffering from any other mental illness, it allows the patient to live the full and happy life we are all entitled to. Self-harm is not a side-effect of Adderall, and it is not a symptom of ADHD. The author may have ADHD, but seems to have been suffering from another, much more serious mental illness as well. I would hesitate to think that 40mg of immediate release would be appropriate for anyone (yikes!!), and I have seen an improper dose push a borderline bi-polar individual into full blown mania. I am very glad that the author got off the medication, and she should consider, if she is so inclined, to investigate action against the medical personnel who so drastically increased her dosage. Even too much water can be dangerous, so Adderall should always be used responsibly.

I must correct something: the brain does not run out of any of it’s self-produced chemicals. They are SELF-PRODUCED. Imbalances can occur in both directions. Be cautious not to place blame where it does not belong, as it will not help to correct the true problem.

As ever, yoga/Ayurveda/nutrition/meditation is better for most situations than anything else.

anonymous Aug 27, 2015 12:47am

Thank you for sharing! I’ve been off various meds for about a month and I’ve never felt better. From Concerta to Seroquel. They are prescribed way too easily and when another problem arises we’re prescribed something else until the black hole seems impossible to get out of. Your story is a validation of such.

anonymous Aug 26, 2015 7:46pm

This came to me this evening on facebook not by chance or coincidence. I am convinced it is the universe telling me what I already know, but for some reason won’t listen to and keep making excuses for. I have used, and abused, adderall for 6 years. In the beginning it made me everything I wanted to be and allowed me to do all the things I wanted and felt like I needed to do in my life. Over the years i have become a shell and have often considered saying a long overdue goodbye to the drug. But im scared. I feel weak and powerless without it and fear i may never be able to function fruitfully without it. And yet I want and wish I could retrain/reset my brain back to before i knew it even existed. Thank you for writing this article. I needed it.

anonymous Aug 26, 2015 7:33pm

This is how adderall affected you. You.

#1 you were over prescribed

#2 you likely do not have ADHD, but dyslexia and/or depression

#3 These side effects are not experienced by the majority of people who take them

I took adderall when I was an accountant. I could not have opened my business without it.

I no longer take it, but it helped me so much and I am grateful for that.

You were on an extremely high dose. I never took that much.

    anonymous Aug 27, 2015 2:03am

    As a former user(and eventual two year abuser) of adderal, I understand the instinct to go on the defense of your own intentions and experience with the drug. However, I do not believe that this article was written as an attack on adderal or as an attack on anyone who has taken or currently is taking adderal. Quite the opposite. This personal, honest, and genuine account of one woman’s own experience, strength, and hope is completely without judgement. In fact, the author appears to fully grasp the futility of casting negative judgment upon her own experiences and the experiences of others. Abuse of Adderal and other stimulants often arises from an unrelenting drive and need to exceed one’s own expectations of perfection and to function at the highest performance level possible. This unbalanced drive for perfection often stems from chronic internal self-criticism and a feeling of low self-worth, with a need to look outwards for external/outcome-based validation. It is only through the ongoing practice of surrendering judgement of self and belief in the false illusions of external perfection along with embracing compassionate acceptance of self, that a person suffering from dependence or addiction to adderal, or any other external substance, can lay down the obsessive pattern of self-abuse in favor of self-care and self-love.

    anonymous Aug 27, 2015 2:08am

    As a sober recovering alcoholic/addict and former user(and eventual two year abuser) of adderal, I understand the instinct to go on the defense of your own intentions and experience with the drug. However, I do not believe that this article was written as an attack on adderal or as an attack on anyone who has taken or currently is taking adderal. Quite the opposite. This personal, honest, and genuine account of one woman’s own experience, strength, and hope is completely without judgement. In fact, the author appears to fully grasp the futility of casting negative judgment upon her own experiences and the experiences of others.

    anonymous Jan 23, 2016 6:23pm

    Sally, I can't agree with you more. Seriously, you were over prescribed and should have gone back to your nurse practitioner and reported these behaviours.. They should tell you when prescribing Adderall that they can trigger manic episodes for those with bipolar. This is ridiculous and I hope other people don't think Adderall will do this for them. Did you really think cleaning obsessively for days and running 70-90 miles was ok?

anonymous Aug 26, 2015 7:09pm

I felt like this is something I could have wrote. I can completely relate. Glad you’re doing well 🙂

Ariane Bolieu May 2, 2018 6:22pm

I feel like writing a text like this is profoundly irresponsible. Some people need this medication, me included and comparing ADHD medication to extasy is pure fiction. I never experienced the symptoms you are talking about, maybe they are symptoms of an other problematic you have. Anyway, saying what you said only increase stigmatisation toward ADHD people and toward themselves. It also brings judgment towards the medication, that can still help many many People. This is not a fictional nor evil mental health problem.

Kali Yansa Feb 24, 2018 5:01pm

Damn how much was she taking ! I have never felt that way

Christopher Bakker Jan 15, 2018 12:23pm

Hell yeah, thank you for sharing. This story reminds me of a phoenix, consumed by its own fire only to be reborn burning with purpose and passion. Consider me inspired!

Ula Rad Oct 10, 2017 12:36pm

Amazing. You are truly amazing and beautiful inside out. Thanks for sharing your story. I gained hope that someday I will be able to live with my depression without drugs.

Farah M. Atia Oct 8, 2017 3:06pm

Thank you so much for this! I had a similar experience with another medication and hearing about your Healing journey gives me a lot of hope as I go through mine. Love.

Ashley McDowell Jan 15, 2017 1:43am

Wow, I never experienced anything like that during the years I took adderall. It kept me focused, driven and a little over enthusiastic if anything. I'm sorry you had such a Terrible experience. It sounds as if your dosage was entirely too high.

Sherry Ann Aug 19, 2016 2:58am

If this is what Adderall did to you then you never truly needed it. It sounds like the intent to help you was there, but ultimately the chemical dependency became a driving force. I'm so glad that you found an alternative therapy that worked for you. I personally can NOT function without my ADHD medications. Without them I'm confused and neurotic at the same time while paralyzed with fear and the inability to focus or organize my thoughts or chaotic surroundings. I still have bouts of irrational, head-spinning, depressive moments where I doubt my ability to focus and stay on task. I still get very easily distracted. But I'm able to pull out of them much easier. Maybe some day I will find my alternate path too.

Jane McFarlane May 29, 2016 9:47am

Megan, thanks for the story of your journey. You are a beautiful soul and have learned very valuable life lessons at a young age. I too have learned more about myself on my yoga mat that anywhere else in my life and I am eternally greatful to the beautiful teachers who really know how to make us dig deep, even when it hurts. I too am stronger and finally comfortable with who I am. May the universe provide you with peace, love and learning your entire life.

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Megan Ziemer

Megan Ziemer is a seeker for the real passions of life: purpose, love, fulfillment, and happiness. Taking life’s challenges and using them as fuel for the journey. Life is most blissful on her yoga mat and in the woods with her dog, Loretta. She loves pineapple, the open road, George Harrison, and Ray Charles.