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“ADHD Medications: Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them?”

I’ve been taking Adderall again to help with anxiety and focus at work after an embarrassing mistake. But the medication side effects, which including nightmares and sleeplessness, are hard to handle.

The following is a personal essay, and not a medical recommendation endorsed by ADDitude. For more information about ADHD treatment, speak with your physician.

I had another nightmare last night. I dreamed that I had married an abusive man and had two kids. After I shot him until he looked like a slice of Swiss cheese, he collapsed into the bathtub. The dream ended when, at the moment I thought he had died, his eyes flashed open.

No, I haven’t been watching scary movies or reading thrillers lately. I am convinced my dream is the unpleasant result of my amphetamine of choice, Adderall, with its side effects of sleeplessness and nightmares.

I hadn’t been taking my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication for a while, but a few nights ago, in a desperate act to regain a sense of balance, I fished out the bottle of generic amphetamines from my luggage, made and prescribed in the States. With no medical coverage while working abroad, my U.S. doctor was kind enough to intentionally prescribe an affordable generic alternative. Up until now, I haven’t needed them.

But lately, the problem is that juggling all sorts of projects on the job has become maddening — not to mention that the boss is back from her whirlwind of business trips, bringing with her a manic onslaught of ideas and meetings.

The latest challenge at work has been managing a huge project, an annual awards ceremony, and I’m the point person on award entries, of which there are hundreds.

[“What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before My Flaming ADHD Burnout”]

Almost as soon as I was tasked with the assignment, my employer’s office began filling up with parcels and packages from all over the world. And my job has been to organize the mess — never a strength of mine — as well as keep track of incoming payments that accompany many of the packages. Did I mention that math is not my forte either? The day the project was assigned, my listening and comprehension skills were low, and my anxiety levels were sky-high, so when they told me to organize the entries by category, it didn’t sink in. I began organizing the packages based on the company that sent them.

Half an hour before the next events-committee meeting, my boss noticed my mistake. As we scrambled to fix my error, I found myself apologizing as if I were in Catholic confession. “I am terribly sorry,” I said over and over again. Of course, there’s no explanation — not one I can share with my boss, anyway — that makes these real-life nightmares any better.

Later that night, I decided to begin the drug cycle again, hoping that the meds might temper my inattention and help my creative mind focus on mundane tasks.

I’ve been blessed — and cursed — with a creative mind, and for now, the amphetamine seems like the perfect temporary solution to soothe my anxiety and keep me focused on uncreative tasks. But if the nightmares become intolerable, to end this up-and-down cycle of medication, anxiety, and apologies, I might give some alternative therapies a try as I attempt to tame my mind and emotions. My dream — both literal and figurative — is to find a place where I don’t have to apologize for or be ashamed of being myself.

[Download: Free Guide to Natural ADHD Treatment Options]